Med. Fruit Fly in FL

bluepalmJuly 12, 2010
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State asks for help with fruit flies

BY SUSAN SALISBURY Palm Beach Post  July 12, 2010

DELRAY BEACH -- State regulators are going to the public for help containing a potentially devastating Mediterranean fruit fly infestation.

``No Fruit Movement,'' roadside signs on Interstate 95 in Boca Raton and Delray Beach. Signs are also posted on U.S. 1.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is hosting public meetings about the infestation and quarantine, and is using newspaper and radio ads to spread the message further.

``We're getting the word out: Don't move fruit off your property,'' said Mark Fagan, spokesman for the department.

Fagan says he's hoping for more cooperation from residents, especially when officials come to a home to inspect or confiscate fruit.

``We're trying to prevent this from spreading,'' he said. ``It's a shame we have to do it that way, but it's what we have to do.''

The Mediterranean fruit fly, considered a serious agricultural pest, is a threat to 260 species of fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers. On June 2 it was detected in Boca Raton, the first find in the state in more than a decade. Since then, a total of 56 flies have been caught in sticky traps, the last one July 3, Fagan said.

No additional Mediterranean fruit flies have been found in Delray Beach since June 25 when regulators shut down Truly Tropical, a small family-owned mango operation. A single fly was found near A1A three miles from the grove off Seacrest Boulevard.

But Chris Wenzel, who operates the 150-tree grove with her husband Ken Stenroos, is not allowed to sell any mangoes. Treatment options that state and federal scientists presented are not practical, Wenzel said.

``There is no real-world rational kind of direction,'' Wenzel said. ``One of them was irradiation. The fruit would have to be shipped to Mulberry in Central Florida. They would have to be uniform size. We have 40 varieties. They are not uniform. We do local, organically grown.''

State and federal agriculture officials have forbidden the removal of fruit from Truly Tropical, saying they fear undetected flies could be spread.

``We look forward to the mangoes every summer,'' Truly Tropical customer JoAnn Peart of Delray Beach said. ``She has so many different varieties. Our whole family loves them. I thought it was kind of overkill because she doesn't have the fly and nobody near her has it.''

The grove has been treated with an organic pesticide, and no flies have been found, Wenzel said. She believes fruit that homeowners let fall to the ground is a much greater potential threat than anything picked from her grove. The sacrifice of her crop, which brought in $5,000 last year, accomplishes little, she said.

The other treatment options aren't workable or practical either, Wenzel said. They include quick freezing and a hot water treatment, both of which would ruin the fruit, fumigation and a 30-day treatment program. There's nowhere to fumigate the fruit and 30 days from now the fruit will be rotted.

Fagan agreed none of the ideas offered is practical for a small grower.

``We can sell fruit only if it's consumed on the property,'' Wenzel said. ``I think the rules for the citrus industry during quarantine should apply to me, and I should be able to sell to customers who live in the quarantine area.''

Fagan said that during the canker quarantines before 2006 when the eradication program ended, citrus growers had to follow protocol such as washes.

``The difference is citrus and mangoes, for one, the nature of the fruit itself. Ninety-five percent of Florida oranges go to juice,'' Fagan said.

``The introduction of this fruit fly in Delray ... we don't know where it came from,'' Fagan said. ``The fact is, it has the potential to devastate Florida's agriculture, and that is why it is important that some people have to sacrifice.''


only a matter of time before they make their way down here if they are not already.

is Mediterranean fruit fly more devastating than carribean fruit fly?

i would agree that the best deterrent is cleaning up fruit after they fall from the tree

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 11:36AM
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boson(Delray Beach,Florida)

Yikes! I live in Delray Beach. I have been to Truly Tropical many times. About 15 mins from where I live.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 1:18PM
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enduser(9a Tampa)

What I remember from last years fruit club meeting.
(The department of agriculture (DOA) is solely committed to protecting the citrus industry in Florida. The Med fly is the only pest that attacks the citrus fruit at an early stage. All other fruit industries appear to be of no concern to them because they have a low commercial value. That was the message that was made clear to the members of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Rare Fruit Council International monthly meeting last year when one of the DOA staff gave a presentation on fruit fly management. Needless to say lots of people were extremely disappointed with that policy.)

The Med fly is by far the most destructive since it has so many fruit and vegetable hosts. Its larvae feed and develop on many deciduous, subtropical, and tropical fruits and some vegetables. Although it may be a major pest of citrus, often it is a more serious pest of some deciduous fruits, such as peach, pear, and apple.

The Caribbean fruit fly has fewer fruit hosts. Within its normal range of distribution the economic damage caused by this species has been relatively small, although guavas, roseapples, and Surinam cherries are severely attacked as a rule. In Florida it only attacks overripe citrus fruit.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 12:06AM
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    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 6:37AM
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