TALLAHASSEE (CBS4)- Two Mediterranean fruit flies were discovered during routine monitoring in South Florida.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that the flies were found in a residential area of Pompano Beach in Broward County.
“Though disturbing, this find confirms that our early detection system for pests and diseases is working,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “Our staff will work closely with our federal partners to begin intensive trapping and surveillance in the Broward County area.”
A quarantine has been imposed on 47 square miles of northeast Broward County, roughly north of Oakland Park Boulevard and east of Florida’s Turnpike, where citrus fruits, mango and other fruits that serve as hosts for the flies may not be moved off the property on which they were grown, according to the Sun Sentinel.
State and federal officials are placing 2,000 additional traps in a 50-square-mile area around the positive find. The department is also setting up a certification process for host materials to move in and out of the quarantine zone.
Officials said the Mediterranean fruit fly is considered the most serious of the world’s fruit fly pests because of its potential economic harm and threat to the food supply. It attacks more than 250 different fruits, vegetables and nuts, including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, guava, mango, tomatoes and peppers, according to the department.
The flies’ eggs are laid in the fruit and develop into maggots causing the fruit to rot. They then emerge as adults once the fruit falls to the ground. Medflies breed continuously when host fruits are available. Population growth may be explosive, as females are capable of producing hundreds of eggs.
In June 2010, over 50 Mediterranean fruit flies were trapped in the Boca Raton area of Palm Beach County. An emergency response program was implemented, and 88 days later, eradication was declared. This was one of the shortest Mediterranean fruit fly eradication programs on record in the US.
State and federal agencies are working with local governments to keep the public involved and notified with more information, the department said.
Residents with questions or concerns can call the department’s toll free number at 888-397-1517.