PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — One of the world’s most serious fruit fly pests was positively identified in Pinellas County, according to a release from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) on Friday.
According to FDACS, Oriental fruit flies, otherwise known as Bactrocera dorsalis, attack more than 436 different fruits, vegetables, and nuts and are considered a serious threat due to their potential economic harm.
Officials said the flies attack fig, loquat, mango, orange, peach, plum, sapote, soursop, Surinam cherry, tangerine, tropical almond, and guava plants among many others.
“The fruit flies lay their eggs in host fruits and vegetables,” FDACS said. “In a few days, the eggs hatch, and maggots render the fruits or vegetables inedible.”
The initial flies were discovered during a routine trapping operation and additional flies were discovered during expanded trapping activities, FDACS said.
In response, a quarantine area was established in the St. Petersburg area prohibiting the movement of fruit, vegetables, and nuts without a compliance agreement from the department. Treatments are also being conducted in a 1.5-square-mile area around the fly detections.
Oriental fruit flies have been trapped several times in Florida since 1964. Each time, they have been successfully eradicated, FDACS said.
“Our staff, working closely with our federal partners, has begun a treatment program to eradicate this destructive pest,” said FDACS Division of Plant Industry Director, Dr. Trevor Smith.