Tau Fruit Fly

First Tau Fruit Fly Quarantine in Western Hemisphere

Josh McGillCalifornia Corner, Pests, Regulation

A portion of Los Angeles County has been placed under quarantine for the Tau fruit fly (Zeugodacus tau group) following the detection of more than 20 flies in the unincorporated area of Stevenson Ranch, near the city of Santa Clarita.

Tau fruit fly
Tau fruit fly (Photo by Severyn Korneyev)

The fly has a very wide host range, including numerous citrus varieties as well as a select range of native plants in California. A full list of host plants can be found here.

This is the first Tau fruit fly quarantine ever in the Western Hemisphere. The quarantine area measures 79 square miles, bordered on the north by Castaic Junction; on the south by Oat Mountain; on the west by Del Valle; and on the east by Honby Ave. View the quarantine map here.

It is believed the fly was introduced by travelers bringing uninspected produce into the state — a common pathway for invasive species.

To prevent the spread of this invasive species, residents living in the quarantine area are urged not to move any fruits and vegetables from their property. They may be consumed or processed (i.e., juiced, frozen, cooked or ground in the garbage disposal) at the property where they were picked. Otherwise, they should be disposed of by double-bagging in plastic and placing the bags in a bin specifically for garbage.

Following the principles of integrated pest management, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner, will utilize a multi-tiered approach to eliminate the Tau fruit fly and prevent its spread to new areas. On properties within 200 meters of detections, staff will cut host fruit and vegetables to inspect for any fruit fly larvae that may be present. Additionally, properties within 200 meters of the detections will be treated with a naturally derived organic-approved material known as spinosad, which will help remove any live adult fruit flies and reduce the density of the population. Finally, fly traps that incorporate a pheromone lure and a minute amount of pesticide will be used in a wider part of the treatment area.

Further information about this invasive species is available on CDFA’s website.

Source: Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program

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