Officials have established a 75-square-mile quarantine area in Orange and Los Angeles counties Thursday in an effort to prevent the crop-destroying Oriental fruit fly from spreading.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 70 square miles in Anaheim and 5 square miles in Los Angeles county are affected.
USDA spokesman Larry Hawkins says residents are being asked not to move fruit out of the quarantine area.
The move comes as state and federal officials respond to an outbreak of 12 fruit flies in the Anaheim area.
“Our system to detect invasive species like the Oriental fruit fly is working well and according to design,” said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). “The key is to respond quickly and take action before the pests can cause widespread damage.”
The Oriental fruit fly targets more than 230 fruits, vegetables and plants. Female flies lay eggs inside the fruit that hatch into maggots, making them inedible.
According to the CDFA press release, treatment of the Oriental fruit fly primarily relies upon a process known as “male attractant,” in which workers squirt a small patch of fly attractant mixed with a very small dose of pesticide approximately 8-10 feet off the ground to street trees and similar surfaces.
Male flies are attracted to the mixture and die after consuming it. On and near the properties where the flies were found, crews will also remove and dispose of host fruits and vegetables from yards and gardens and apply treatments to plants using the organic-approved substance spinosad.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.