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West Valley Focus

GRANADA HILLS : Medfly Spraying Stirs Neighborhood

July 23, 1993|MATTHEW HELLER

Several hours after the ornamental tree in Jean Akers' front yard was sprayed with malathion, you could still smell the pungent odor of the Medfly-killing chemical.

"That is terrible," said the Granada Hills homeowner, grimacing at the odor. "I hope it's all right. I hope it does some good."

Akers' quiet, leafy neighborhood bordering the Simi Valley Freeway has been the scene of sometimes frenetic activity this week as agricultural agency workers battled to contain the San Fernando Valley's first Medfly infestation in three years. Eleven male specimens of the crop-destroying fruit fly have been found in traps on several properties near Index Street and Monogram Avenue.

"We've been inundated (with government workers) the last two or three days," Akers said. "It was like a swarm of people."

Workers on foot Thursday completed spraying fruit and other trees within a 200-meter radius of the infestation and next week will release 40 million sterile Medflies to prevent the pests from reproducing. A 76-square-mile quarantine zone radiating from Granada Hills has also been imposed.

Several residents in the infested area said workers had also picked fruit from their trees and inspected it.

"They said (Medfly) eggs might be in the fruit," said Sophia Acayan, who has an apple tree in her yard. "They gave them back and told us not to give any away."

At one point, Akers noticed workers clustered around a picnic table in a front yard having what she thought was a snack. When she took a closer look, she saw that they were dissecting nectarines in search of larvae.

Akers is a veteran of the anti-Medfly assault of 1990 that included aerial spraying of malathion. "I got real sick from it," she recalled. "It came down real heavy in our back yard. This time, it really wasn't that much. I guess we need to get rid of the flies."

Another resident, who asked not to be identified, expressed no concern, saying, "When I was in the military, I went through worse stuff than that. So what's the big deal?"

Lorenda Carlucci, a visitor, couldn't help wondering at all the spraying. "I was like, 'Wow, they really do that?' " she said. "I'm from West Virginia and nothing ever happens there."

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