Mediterranean Fruit Flies Found in Boca Raton; Fruits, Veggies Threatened by Outbreak

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Medflies are back in South Florida and creating a serious outbreak, according to Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. He deems the threat from the Mediterranean fruit fly, first discovered in Boca Raton traps over the weekend, "disturbing."

Not since 2002 has South Florida has seen the destructive flies -- tiny insects that lay eggs in citrus, tomatoes, mangoes, peppers, and guavas, among hundreds of other fruit and vegetable varieties. The emerging maggots cause the fruits to rot.

Because of the insects' reproduction speed, the damage and economic impact they have on crops in a very short span of time is critical, so Bronson said he's bringing an "all hands on deck" effort to stop them. Federal and state resources will be employed.
That means more traps -- within an 81-mile radius of the Boca Raton finds -- in backyard mango and guava trees and the possibility that fruits already on trees may be stripped completely.

When medflies were found in 2002, the Dept. of Ag released sterile flies to stem the numbers and continues to do so in high-risk areas. Methods to contain the outbreak include application of a natural pesticide, Spinosad, which is safe even on organic crops. Stripping trees and plants that are infested also is a measure.

Bronson is asking for the cooperation of the general public in helping eradicate the flies. For more information about the outbreak, call the state's toll-free help-line at 888-397-1517, or visit the DOACS website.

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