Would Introducing More Fruit Flies Save Cherries in Utah?
If you have driven I-15 into California, you know the fruit stop station. Cars slow down and go through what looks like a toll booth where you are asked if you are bringing any fruit into the state. I used to think this was kind of snooty as other states didn’t ask me or take away my bananas. A recent outbreak of fruit flies in California explains why they are so careful.
Experts say fruit flies have the potential to decimate California’s agriculture industry. The females lay eggs in fruits and vegetables which hatch as maggots and tunnel through crops, leaving them inedible.
These fruit flies come from Australia, and they have quarantined the area and asked residents to get rid of any fruit on their property. Something as small as a fruit fly introduced to a new environment can have a huge impact.
In Utah, the Wester Cherry fruit fly came into the state several years ago. The fly lays its eggs under the skin and the larvae feed on the cherry until it rots and falls to the ground. Utah has battled this pest ever since.
California is trying to get rid of their invasive fruit fly by dumping millions more of the insects into the area from airplanes.
In the city of Los Angeles, agriculture officials plan to drop over two million sterile male Mediterranean fruit flies within a 69-square-mile radius after the pests were found at a home in Leimert Park.
The sterile males will mate with the females without producing offspring. It will be interesting to see if this approach is effective or if there are unforeseen problems that occur. Maybe a similar approach could be used to control the fruit flies destroying cherries in Utah.
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Gallery Credit: Scott Clow