No New Fruit Flies Found; Quarantine Is on Hold

Times Staff Writer

An agricultural and plant quarantine in Glendale and northeast Los Angeles is now on the books but is not being enforced because no Oriental fruit flies have been found since Sept. 23, Los Angeles County agricultural officials said.

"The quarantine is in standby status. Rather than go ahead with notification, we have put it on hold," Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner Paul Engler said. The quarantine will be enforced if more fruit flies are found, he added.

However, a second round of spraying of trees and utility poles in central Glendale has been completed and at least two more rounds of spraying by the ground crews are scheduled over the next month, said John C. Manning, chief deputy of the agricultural commissioner. No aerial spraying is scheduled, officials said.

3 Flies Found

The quarantine was first proposed after three fruit flies were found in traps on East Oak Avenue, Harvard Street and Wilson Avenue in Glendale from Sept. 18 to 23. One of the fruit flies was a mated female, so officials said they suspected that there might be eggs.

However, in a door-to-door inspection of fruit several weeks ago, no eggs or maggots were found in any fruit.

On Sept. 20, county agricultural officials began the first round of spraying a small amount of a mixture of methyl eugenol, which attracts male Oriental fruit flies, and the pesticide dibrom-14 on more than 7,600 trees and utility poles inside a 12-square-mile treatment zone in central Glendale.

Fruit flies are dangerous to crops because they destroy the inside of fruit, making it inedible.

However, no major crops in California have been destroyed by the flies recently because officials have been able to keep them away from major orchards, according to Rebecca Jones, an associate economic entomologist with the state Department of Food and Agriculture. She said infestations are usually started by vacationers returning from Hawaii with infested fruit.

Official Passage

The emergency 120-day quarantine was officially imposed last Thursday by the state Office of Administrative Law in Sacramento, according to Tina Kerrigan, deputy director of the Office of Administrative Law. It embraces an 81-square-mile area including Glendale, parts of Burbank and La Canada Flintridge, as well as the Los Angeles districts of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater, Highland Park and Eagle Rock.

Last week, officials had said they were preparing to begin enforcement of the quarantine, which would have advised residents not to share home-grown fruit with friends and neighbors and would have required nurseries to remove all fruit from plants and treat the soil to kill any fruit flies that might be in the pupa stage. The county would fumigate the fruit, place it in plastic bags and send it to a dump, said Bob Atkins, supervisor of pest detection with the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner's office.

Street vendors of fruits and vegetables would have been required to cover their produce with plastic, and farmers' markets would have had to safeguard their fruit with plastic or mesh screens and would have been closely monitored by county agricultural officials, Manning said. Supermarkets would not have been affected.

Officials said a quarantine in the Glendale area would cause few problems because there is little agriculture there.

Plans on Hold

However, plans for a quarantine have been temporarily put on hold until more fruit flies are found. Officials said they wanted to have the quarantine technically on the books so that they can implement it immediately if necessary.

Atkins said the danger of infested fruit leaving the area is "somewhat remote, because we haven't found any further life stages," such as eggs or maggots. He said it is impossible to determine how many flies may have been killed by the spraying because the flies do not stick to the mixture sprayed on utility poles and trees.

Glendale is one of three areas in Los Angeles County afflicted recently by the Oriental fruit fly. In Long Beach, where 55 flies have been found since Sept. 9, a 13-square-mile eradication zone and a 90-square-mile quarantine zone have been in effect since last month.

Last week a single fly was found in Lynwood and eradication treatments were started there, Engler said. A connection to Long Beach is suspected because the fly was found only 10 miles from the epicenter of the Long Beach infestation, he said.

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