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Huntington Park : 5 Million Sterile Fruit Flies Put in 26-Square-Mile Area

Agriculture officials released 5 million sterile Mexican fruit flies Tuesday in a 26-square-mile area to fight an infestation discovered in November.

The flies were released from aircraft over an area encompassing Huntington Park and Maywood, said Bill Edwards, chief deputy for county Agricultural Commissioner Leon Spaugy.

A total of 20 million sterile flies will be released in the eradication effort, Edwards said.

Mexican fruit flies, which attack 50 types of fruits, were first discovered Nov. 5. Thirteen flies were taken from the area and a 60-square-mile segment including parts of Downey, Bell Gardens and South Gate have been placed under quarantine.

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That means peaches, plums, guavas, avocados, tomatoes, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and other citrus grown or purchased in the quarantined area cannot leave the area.

When the Mexican fruit flies were discovered, agriculture officials cut down infested fruit and spread malathion-laced pesticide bait in the area.

The sterile flies, 40 million of which are bred each week at a federal facility in Mission, Tex., will be used for four to six months, Edwards said. Sterile flies mate with wild flies but produce no offspring. The method will control the infestation within three generations.


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