LA in Lockdown: Asian Pest Triggers First-Ever Quarantine


A portion of the California county of Los Angeles has been quarantined following the detection of a tiny invasive fruit fly species from Asia. After more than 20 of the Tau fruit flies, Zeugodacus tau group, were discovered in the Stevenson Ranch region near Santa Clarita, the 79-square-mile area was placed under quarantine restrictions. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), this is the first-ever quarantine of the Tau fruit fly in the Western Hemisphere. The CDFA describes the native Asian Tau fruit fly as a serious threat to agriculture and natural resources.

A variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as a limited number of California-native plants, are among the fly’s extensive host range. The California Department of Food and Agriculture believes the fly was introduced by travelers bringing uninspected produce into the state, a common pathway for invasive species. Castaic Junction in the north, Oat Mountain in the south, Del Valle in the west, and Honby Avenue in the east make up the quarantine zone. The residents of this area have been instructed not to remove any fruits and vegetables from their property.

On the property where fruits and vegetables were harvested, residents may consume and process them, but they cannot be transported elsewhere. Residents have been informed that they can dispose of the produce by double-bagging in plastic and placing the bags in a garbage can. The strict quarantine measures have been implemented due to the enormous quantity of damage the tiny insects are capable of causing. 

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Adult Tau Fly: Size, Coloration, and Reproduction Capabilities

Photo by: KTLA 5 via YouTube

Adult Tau flies are approximately 7 mm in length, comparable to the length of a housefly. Their bodies are yellow with black markings, and their wings are transparent with two dark stripes. A female can produce more than 400 eggs in her lifetime.

Typically, eggs hatch within one to two days, then followed by larvae moving through the fruit, eating on the pulp, and emerging through their respective exit holes. They then descend from the fruit and pupate in the soil after burrowing there. A week later, adults emerge and require approximately 12 days to reach sexual maturity before laying more eggs.

Several generations are generated each year as a result of the species’ short life cycle, which allows for almost continuous reproduction. It means that as the population of the Tau fly increases, it has the potential to have devastating effects on California’s agriculture. The wide variety of fruits and vegetables on which the insect and its larvae feed is one of the most dangerous aspects of the minuscule insects. According to the CDFA, at least 34 hosts from nine plant families have been reported.

Included in this category are melons, okra, peppers, papayas, citrus, cucumber, pumpkin, avocado, tomato, and gourds. As larvae tunnel through and attack the fruit or vegetable, it may become unfit for consumption due to the damage and the decay-causing organisms that may infiltrate, causing the fruit or vegetable’s interior to rot.

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Source: Mirror News

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