Oriental Fruit Flies Are Invading Florida, Feasting Their Way Through $1.6 Billion Produce



Mix of fresh fruits on wicker bascketFrom sink-holes to controversial cops, Florida has had its fair share of unfortunate occurrences as of late. And now, a small fly could jeopardize Miami-Dade County’s $1.6 billion agriculture industry.

Meet the Bactrocera dorsalis, also known as the oriental fruit fly. While these pesky bugs are no stranger to kitchen fruit bowls across the country, Florida’s Agriculture Department is describing the fly as one of the industry’s “most devastating pests“.

According to the Washington Post, the oriental fruit fly was first spotted on August 26. Since the first sighting, almost 160 insects have been found in Miami-Dade County, specifically in areas where there are a lot of groves.

The fruit fly, though irritating to to the average homeowner and fruit lover, proves especially dangerous to the agricultural industry at large. Fruit flies lay eggs on over 430 varieties of tropical fruits. When the eggs hatch, the larvae then eat the product, effectively destroying the crop.

The fruit fly infestation is being considered one of Florida’s worst, and it spells trouble for the nation at large, who depends on that state for agriculture and produce during the cold months of winter.

Fruit is not only good for the economy, it’s vital to health and well-being. Three servings of fruit and vegetables per day can reduce the incidence of stroke by 27%, and reduce the incidence of stroke death by 42%.

The oriental fruit fly’s presence is so alarming, in fact, that the Commissioner of Florida’s Agriculture, Adam Putnam, has declared a state of agricultural emergency. As a result, 85 square miles within Miami-Dade County have been quarantined. In addition, pest treatment is being applied to areas of infestation and infested fruits on host trees.

According to a statement released by the state agriculture department, their current efforts to fix the oriental fruit fly infestation are working.

The next step in eradicating the issue may be aerial pesticide spray, but the effort is considered the “last, best bullet in the gun,” as pesticides are strong and potentially dangerous and pose the risk of invalidating organic fruit statuses.

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