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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — An Asian fruit fly outbreak has prompted a quarantine in South Miami-Dade.
According to our news partners at the Miami Herald, about 85 square miles of fertile farmland have been quarantined in the area. That includes parts in Kendall, Redland, and near Miami International Airport.
The Oriental fruit fly has been blamed for heavy damage to mangoes in the Philippines and citrus in Japan but it actually attacks more than 430 different fruits, vegetables and nuts, along with avocados and tomatoes.
“This is one of the most damaging pests in the world for agricultural commodities. It threatens our avocado, guava, fig, citrus, our peaches,” said Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam.
It’s considered one of the most aggressive of its species.
The flies were first spotted in the Redland last month. As of Tuesday, 116 flies had been caught in an area that has some of the region’s largest packing houses.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs said they are working “around the clock” to contain the flies.
Meantime, the department is also working to rid Florida of Giant African Land Snails that can cause diseases in people who touch them and also cause damage to buildings. Scientists consider these snails to be one of the most damaging snails in the world. They also consume at least 500 types of plants, including everything grown in Florida as food.
“No one wants these on the side of your house or pet food dish. It feeds on hundreds of types of plant material. It is a threat to our agriculture industry but also a threat to your landscape,” said Putnam.
The department is finally getting closer to eradicating the giant snails that have plagued the state since an outbreak in late 2011.
In South Florida, there are 29 areas that are being checked for the snails.
“In 21 of 29 of the core areas we have found no live snails in one year. We are winning the fight, but my goal is to come back and say we have we have eradicated this pest,” said Putnam.
Since 2011, more than 157,000 of the slimy creatures – which can cause meningitis – have been collected.
The snails are difficult to get rid of because they reproduce so fast, up to 1,200 snails per year but dogs like Sierra and bear are helping get rid of them.
As the fight continues on both the snails and fruit flies, the department says the eradication of both is possible.