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Agriculture, Plant Quarantine Asked for Glendale Area

October 10, 1985|ELIZABETH CAMPOS | Times Staff Writer

A plant and agricultural quarantine of Glendale and areas in Burbank and northeast Los Angeles is expected to be declared within a few days because of an infestation of Oriental fruit flies, according to county agriculture officials.

Meanwhile, emergency insecticide spraying of trees and utility poles has begun in central Glendale.

The proposed quarantine would cover 81 square miles and would restrict transportation of fruit outside the affected area.

Nurseries also would be required to remove all fruit from plants. Soil at nurseries would be treated to kill any fruit flies, and fruit and vegetables would be fumigated, placed in plastic bags and sent to a dump, said Bob Atkins, supervisor of pest detection with the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner's office.

He said quarantine notices would be sent to all residents advising them to keep "home-grown fruit at home."

"If fruit is given to friends in Canoga Park and the fruit is infested, it could infest another area," Atkins said.

3 Fruit Flies Found

The proposed quarantine area, which includes all of Glendale, is bordered on the west by Buena Vista Street in Burbank and on the east by the Foothill and Pasadena freeways. The southern edge runs along the Hollywood Freeway, curving in toward Elysian Park and then back out to the Pasadena Freeway. The northern border runs through the Verdugo Mountains through parts of Montrose and La Canada Flintridge.

From Sept. 18 to Sept. 23, three Oriental fruit flies were found in traps on East Oak Avenue, Harvard Street and Wilson Avenue in Glendale. One of them was a "mated female," said Atkins, so there is reason to suspect that there may be eggs.

As a result, spraying by ground crews began on Sept. 20, followed by a second spraying on Oct. 4. The area being sprayed covers 11 square miles around the infested traps, said John C. Manning, chief deputy of the agricultural commissioner's office. No aerial spraying is expected.

Last week, county agriculture officials started a door-to-door inspection of the area, cutting fruit from trees and slicing it open. So far no infested fruit has been found.

Fruits, Vegetables on List

Fruits such as apples, apricots, figs, plums and tomatoes are considered most susceptible to infestation by the Oriental fruit fly. Also on the danger list are some vegetables such as squash, peppers and cucumbers.

The female flies inject their eggs, which develop into maggots, under the skin of fruit. The fruit rots and drops off the plant, enabling the maggots to crawl into the ground for the pupa or cocoon stage, Atkins said. The fruit fly emerges from the pupa, depending on the temperature, anywhere from 30 days to four months later, he explained.

The fruit flies in Glendale were found in detection traps that are placed, two per square mile, throughout Los Angeles county, Atkins said.

Oriental fruit flies were recently found in Long Beach. That area was officially quarantined on Sept. 30.

But county officials said the situation in Glendale is at a much earlier stage than in Long Beach, where 52 Oriental fruit flies and 14 maggots have been found.

Long Beach 'More Serious'

"Long Beach is more serious. It is a larger area and is also more advanced," said Manning, adding that officials "feel we're right on top" of the situation in Glendale.

Atkins estimated the cost of minimum eradication efforts in Glendale will total $50,000; the larger one in Long Beach will probably cost $100,000. Both of those bills will be paid by the county, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Atkins said.

The treatment used is referred to as the "male annihilation treatment" because it uses a chemical that attracts the male Oriental fruit fly, Atkins said. The chemical, methyl eugenol, which is used as bait in traps, is mixed with pesticide and sprayed on surfaces at least seven feet above the ground, Atkins said.

One-tenth of an ounce of the methyl eugenol mix has been sprayed on each tree and utility pole in the 11-square-mile area in Glendale, he said. Treatment will be repeated every other week.

One Drawback

The only drawback of the spray treatment is there is no way of measuring the number of male fruit flies killed by the insecticide, Atkins said. With the traps, the fruit fly is stuck inside and can be counted, he said.

As required, the proposed quarantine was submitted by the Los Angeles County Agricultural Department to the state Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento. It was given preliminary approval there and was submitted on Oct. 3 to the state Office of Administrative Law, where quick approval is expected.

"There is no reason to expect it not to pass," said Barbara Hass, a biologist for the state agriculture department.

10 Days to Approve Request

The Office of Administrative Law has 10 days from the date the proposal was received to either approve the emergency regulation and file with the secretary of state or return it to the state agriculture department, Hass said. 'We haven't ever had any returned to us," she noted.

Atkins said a problem could arise if infested fruit is not disposed of properly.

"We fumigate the fruit first and then send it to the dump. If it is run down the garbage disposal it is not a hazard. But, in a compost heap, it is a hazard," he said. Information regarding proper disposal will be in the notices sent to residents.

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