REDLANDS, Calif. (KABC) -- A mandatory state-led effort is underway in Redlands to strip trees of their fruit in order to protect against a fly infestation.
State workers are expected to visit some 2,000 residences in the community to carefully remove the fruit from citrus and other trees to prevent an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly from spreading to the rest of the state.
Residents are already familiar with the dangerous pest, which lays its eggs inside fruit. Removing the fruit disrupts the insect's life cycle.
"The Oriental fruit fly is the kind that sneaks inside the fruit so a lot of times you can't even see it on the outside," said Redlands resident Michelle Gibbons. "So, for them to go around and check fruit is a good idea."
It's not only backyard trees that are at risk. Commercial citrus growers are also being asked to forfeit their crops within the quarantine area.
"We want people to understand that this is a necessary step to protect the food supply and to protect future crops of citrus and other host fruits for the Oriental fruit fly," said Steve Lyle with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Residents are asked not to touch the fruit on the trees themselves, but wait for the trained state workers to arrive. If fruit has fallen to the ground and must be disposed of, residents are asked to double-bag the items and place them in regular trash, not green waste or organic bins.
The Oriental fruit fly, first observed in California in 1960, attacks more than 230 types of crops and is considered a serious threat to the state's multibillion dollar agricultural industry.