Two million fruit flies being dumped over LA to fight invasive species

Around 2.25 million sterile male fruit flies will be dumped over Leimert Park neighbourhood

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 27 October 2023 19:38 BST
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California to dump millions of fruit flies into LA

Millions of fruit flies are being dumped over Los Angeles as officials try to fight back against an invasive species.

Around 2.25 million sterile male fruit flies will be dropped over the Leimert Park neighbourhood of the city after the California Department of Food and Agriculture detected two wild Mediterranean fruit flies.

A quarantine area of 69 miles has been set up covering parts of Culver City, South LA and Central LA.

That quarantine impacts growers, wholesalers and retailers of susceptible fruit in the area. Home gardeners are urged to eat produce on-site and not move it from their property.

The CDFA says that Medflys target more than 250 types of fruit and vegetables and damages them by laying eggs that turn into maggots that dig their way out through the produce, spoiling it.

Millions of fruit flies are being dumped over Los Angeles as officials try to fight back against the invasive Mediterranean fruit fly

If populations spiral out of control, it could cost the state up to $1.8bn per year, according to the CDFA.

Ken Pellman of the Los Angeles County Agriculture Department, said that the flies are marked with a special purple dye after being harvested at a military base in Los Alamitos.

They are then loaded into a plane and once it takes off “they’re just released out of the bottom of the cabin.”

Officials say it is unclear how the invasive fly arrived in Southern California, but it was most likely through uninspected produce.

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