April 23, 1998
Sterile Flies to Be Used in Medfly Eradication Effort
TALLAHASSEE--Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Bob Crawford is announcing plans to turn to biological controls to finish up the Dade County Medfly Eradication Program.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and the United State Department of Agriculture will begin releasing sterile Mediterranean Fruit Flies on April 29 in a 25 square mile area surrounding the site where two flies and five larvae were discovered. There have been no new finds, but in an abundance of caution, Crawford has decided to move ahead with the sterile fly release. "We want to do everything possible to ensure this medfly infestation is stopped in its tracks," Crawford said. "The use of sterile flies in conjunction with limited ground bait spraying is a safe, effective and environmentally friendly way to accomplish that goal."
Sterile male medflies mate with females, who have no offspring and then die after a roughly 30-day life cycle. About thirteen million flies will be released each week for ten to twelve weeks, about three medfly life cycles. After that, the Department and USDA will continue intensive trapping for two more months to ensure the eradication effort has been a success.
"We are committed to achieving eradication of this destructive pest in Florida," said Alfred S. Elder, deputy administrator of plant protection and quarantine with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "We have successfully used sterile release to combat Medfly before and are confident that this is the next step necessary toward reaching our goal."
The Department of Agriculture and USDA launched the eradication program after two adult male flies were discovered in a residential fruit tree on April 1 and 2. The medfly is considered one of the most devastating plant pests, affecting some 260 fruits, vegetables and plants. Left unchecked, the medfly could devastate Florida's $53 billion dollar agriculture industry, destroy backyard gardens and damage the natural habitat of wildlife.
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