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Agriculture Press Release

March 1, 1999

Sterile Medflies to Be Released in Miami

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today that a preventive sterile Medfly release program will begin over Miami beginning March 8.

"This sterile fly release is part of our ongoing effort to minimize the impact of Mediterranean fruit fly outbreaks in our state," Crawford said. "Weve been Medfly-free in Florida since October 8, 1998, and were hopeful that this preventive release program will help us stay that way."

Plans call for the release of approximately 15 million flies weekly over 100 square miles of Dade County, including Miami International Airport, Miami Springs and the seaport previous hot spots for Medfly infestation. Although roughly 125,000 sterile flies will be released per square mile, area residents should not notice any increase, as these flies will only seek out fruit trees and other Medflies. The general boundaries for the preventive release program in Dade County are Sunset Drive to the south, the Palmetto Expressway to the north and west, and the coastline to the east. The Dade County sterile release program will continue through June 30, 1999.

Since May 1998, sterile flies have been released over a 700-square-mile area of Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties. To date, more than 3.6-billion sterile Medflies have been dropped in this area, and the program there will continue through June 30, 1999, also.

The use of sterile Medflies is a common practice for both Medfly eradication and prevention. During an eradication program, after the wild Medfly population has been significantly reduced through chemical treatments, sterile flies are released into the environment to overwhelm any remaining wild flies.

In a state free from Medfly with high-risk areas such as international airports or seaports like Florida, a preventive release program is designed to overwhelm any small number of wild flies that may enter the country in infested fruits or vegetables, and eliminate them before they have a chance to breed.

The sterile Medfly program is a cooperative effort between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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For more information:

Joe Stewart
(813) 840-0504


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