State officials have declared a fruit fly quarantine in a 130-mile zone of Orange and Los Angeles counties.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture said Wednesday the pests have been detected in parts of Anaheim, Artesia, Cerritos and other areas, the Associated Press reports.
Trained workers will treat areas with pesticide, which attracts and kills male flies. Department spokesman Jay Van Rein tells KPCC the pesticides do not harm humans or pets.
The fruit fly is known to target more than 230 types of fruit, vegetables and plants. The female fruit fly lays eggs inside fruits and vegetables, and maggots eat their way out, making them unfit for consumption.
Van Rein tells KPCC that while Los Angeles and Orange Counties are far from California’s high-dollar crop-land, a fruit fly infestation still poses a high risk.
“We do have not just farms in the area, but all of our fruit trees in our back yards, all of our fruit trees in the public right of way, everything from farmers markets and gardens to very small farms,” Van Rein says. “There’s a lot of urban farming and large-scale gardening going on that maybe wasn’t ten or fifteen years ago.”
The most recent state statistics as examined by KPCC show Los Angeles and Orange rank number 32 and 34 respectively out of California’s 58 counties in the value of their agricultural production.
Fruit flies commonly infest urban and suburban areas by hitchhiking in fruits and vegetables illegally smuggled from infested regions, including much of Southern Asia.
Van Rein tells KPCC that residents in the quarantined areas can eat the produce growing on their property but shouldn't move it anywhere else.
“Don’t share it with other folks down the street or across the County because it’s a very easy way for the larvae of this fly to move around undetected,” Van Rein says.
The quarantine area as examined by KPCC also includes parts of Buena Park, Cypress, and Stanton. The quarantine order could last from a few months to more than a year.
Check out a map showing where the treatment zone extends:
This story has been updated.