Guava Fruit Fly Found in Windemere
Lakeland Ledger – September 8, 2011
The Florida Department of Agriculture has stepped up its detection program after finding a guava fruit fly in Orange County.
The fly was found Aug. 23 in a trap in a tangerine tree outside a residence in the Windemere area, northeast of Lakeland. Traps within an 81-square-mile radius of where the fly was found were checked daily in the following week and will be checked weekly for about 60 days instead of the usual every two or three weeks. There are 55,000 traps set up in residential areas around Florida in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for early detection of pests, said Denise Feiber, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture.
So far it’s just one fly, but it’s still cause for concern.
“Exotic fruit flies are a tremendous threat to Florida agriculture,” Feiber said. “Just every day that passes you breathe a sigh of relief, but it’s not to say tomorrow another one wouldn’t be found. It certainly has happened in the past.”
Guava is mostly grown in South Florida, but the guava fruit flies are also a problem for citrus and other fruits grown around the state, said Jorge Pena, an expert on pest control and tropical fruits and entomology professor at the University of Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.
The industry is worried because where there is one fly there is the potential for others, Pena said, and they could become a serious pest to citrus, a major crop in Florida. That would mean a big, costly management program.
In the summer of 2010, 49 flies and a couple of larvae were found in Palm Beach County, and bushes and trees were sprayed for about four or five months until the flies were eradicated, Feiber said.
But there hasn’t been a bad outbreak in the state since the late 1990s, when a huge outbreak in Hillsborough and Manatee counties cost millions of dollars to eradicate.