Emergency fruit fly extermination begins

An emergency eradication started Friday after six oriental fruit flies were found in a residential neighborhood in Cupertino earlier this week, Santa Clara County officials said. The flies were found June 22, 23, and 24, west of the state Highway 85 and De Anza Boulevard intersection.

The maggots that develop from the females’ eggs feed on the pulp of more than 230 kinds of fruits and vegetables, causing the fruit or vegetable to decay and drop to the ground. Michelle Thom, deputy commissioner for the Santa Clara County Department of Agriculture said California is particularly susceptible to fruit fly infestations:

“California is the United States’ fruit basket.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California accounts for about half of the harvested fruit acreage in the United States.

State agriculture workers will use an insecticide to lure and kill the male flies, county officials said. Workers will apply small, dollar-sized spots or bait stations at a height of six to eight feet on utility poles and street trees.

Treatment will cover about 15 square miles bordered by East Homestead Road on the north, Stevens Canyon Road in the east, Pierce Road on the south and Johnson Avenue in the west, county officials said.

Thom said workers may finish the initial application Saturday and complete three more applications over the next eight weeks. Thom said the flies may have hitchhiked on a gift from a well-meaning family member in Hawaii or an Asian country.