STOCKTON, CA — The Oriental fruit fly quarantine continues in Stockton, agriculture officials say they hope to end it in July.
Federal, State and County agriculture officials held a briefing on a campaign on Wednesday, May 16 at the Panella Park about how to stop invasive insects from destroying San Joaquin County crops, fruits and gardens.
According to the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner`s Office, on average a new pest is introduced into California every 60 days, and each year these insects and diseases cost the state agriculture industry approximately $3 billion for control and crop loss.
Last September, the Oriental fruit fly was detected in Stockton.
“As a result, we have an eradication program and a quarantine to prevent the movement of host material or fruit that might be infested,” said Larry Hawkins, Public Affairs Specialist of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
As part of its life cycle the Oriental fruit fly lays eggs on the fruit. The eggs then hatch into worms or maggots that damage the fruit, and as a result it cannot be sold commercially, explained Hawkins.
“Oriental fruit flies are not native to the United States,” said Hawkins, “they come primarily from Hawaii, Thailand and a number of Asian countries; it reaches the United States primarily through express carrier mail.”
As part of the campaign to stop the invasive insects, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner`s Office added a canine detection team to their inspection program.
Kojak, a black lab is taken daily to FedEx or UPS terminals to detect unmarked packages with potential pest threats and prevent their establishment in the environment.
San Joaquin County is one of only eight counties in California to be selected for this detection program.
“We are asking people not move any home grown fruit offsite and to not allow any international fruit to come to them,” said Hudson.
California`s climate and rich agricultural land are favorable for the reproduction and development of the Oriental fruit fly, causing major economic losses to local growers.
“In this area, quarantine consists of four and a half miles out from each find-site, you cannot go four miles in this county without expanding the quarantine to the agricultural lands” said San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner, Scott Hudson.
“Last fall when the Oriental fly came in here, we had over a million dollar loss in crop,” said Hudson.
Written by Mayra-Dennise Rocha