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A quarantine zone is set up in Pinellas to contain destructive fruit flies

Oriental fruit fly
Gary Steck, FDACS/DPI
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Oriental fruit flies have been found in southern Pinellas, forcing state officials to establish a quarantine zone restricting the movement of fruit and vegetables.

One of the world's most destructive fruit flies has been discovered in Pinellas County. A quarantine area has been set up to keep the flies from spreading.

Oriental fruit flies have been found in southern Pinellas, forcing state officials to establish a quarantine zone restricting the movement of fruit and vegetables.

The flies were discovered during routine trapping, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services..

Areas in a 1.5-mile area around where each fly was discovered will be sprayed with insecticide, and bait traps are being set up.

Residents within the quarantine zone are being asked not to move fresh fruit or vegetables off their property, and pick up and double-bag any fallen fruit or produce.

The Oriental fruit fly has been trapped several times in Florida since 1964 and each time has been eradicated. It is considered one of the most serious of the world’s fruit fly pests and attacks more than 436 different fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Map of the quarantine area
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
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Map of the quarantine area

Here's more from the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

Residential Properties Within the Quarantine:

  •  Do not move fresh fruit or vegetables off your property
  •  Pick up any fallen produce, double bag, tie the bag and dispose of it in your household garbage

Nursery and Stock Dealers:

  • Comply with the exotic fruit fly quarantine requirements for the handling and/or moving of regulated articles
  • Contact 1-888-397-1517 to review and sign a Compliance Agreement

Treatment will continue within the 1.5-square-mile area around the fly detections. The treatments consist of a bait and insecticide mixture. Flies are killed when they feed on the bait. The treatment may be applied weekly to the upper portion of utility poles and trees. Treatments are applied for a period of two life cycles of the fly (approximately 60 days) past the date of the last detection.
More from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

The Oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, is one of the world's most serious exotic fruit flies. The fly infests over 430 different fruits, vegetables and nuts by laying its eggs in the hosts, making them unmarketable. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is working diligently to eradicate this pest. FDACS and USDA monitor more than 56,000 fruit fly traps statewide as an early detection network against exotic fruit fly introductions that threaten Florida’s agriculture industry.

The last detection was in Seminole County in August 2021. This species is considered one of the most serious of the world’s fruit fly pests due to its potential economic harm.

FDACS has confirmed the detection of Oriental fruit flies in Pinellas County. The initial two flies were discovered on May 17, 2022,  during routine trapping, and two additional flies were discovered on June 14 and 16, during expanded trapping activities encompassing a 113-square mile area. One mated female was captured on June 22.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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