April 17, 1998
Medfly Eradicated From Central Florida
TAMPA The Mediterranean fruit fly has been eradicated from Central Florida as of today, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced.
"We have not trapped any wild Medflies in the greater Tampa area since August 28, 1997," Crawford said. "Im pleased that our cooperative effort with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the assistance of thousands of citizens and businesses across the state, have allowed us to declare eradication of this devastating pest from Central Florida."
There now exist no restrictions on the sale or movement of fruit anywhere in the state, except for those portions of Dade and Manatee counties under quarantine for citrus canker, and a 10-square-mile area of Miami Springs under quarantine due to the detection of two Medflies in early April.
Before today, the last area under quarantine for Medflies was the 274-square-mile area of western Hillsborough County, where billions of sterile Medflies were released between July 25 and November 24, 1997. Three months of intensive trapping in that area have revealed no wild Medflies.
The 89-square-mile Highlands City area of Polk County was released from quarantine November 14, 1997. All of Sarasota, Orange and Manatee counties, and the rest of Polk County, were released from quarantine October 16, 1997. No Medflies have been trapped in those areas since those quarantines were lifted. A total of 749 wild Medflies were trapped from the time the first one was detected on May 28, 1997, until the last fly was found on August 28, 1997.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services monitors about 17,000 fruit fly traps statewide. The detection of any fly of serious economic importance triggers a joint state/federal survey program to determine whether the fly is a lone hitchhiker or a major infestation is in progress. In areas of the five affected counties where Medflies were trapped, fruit fly protocol has been increased from four traps per square mile to 10 traps. Legislation is being considered that calls for the state and federal departments of agriculture jointly to hire an additional 90 inspectors statewide.
The 1997 Medfly infestation in Central Florida was the largest in the state since 1956, and culminated with the largest sterile Medfly release program ever undertaken in Florida. The joint state/federal eradication program cost an estimated $22 million, and its vastness underscores the problems caused by the smuggling of agricultural products.
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