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5 Medflies Caught in Pacoima


Five wild Mediterranean fruit flies have been trapped in Pacoima, prompting intensified trapping near the capture site and the extension of a quarantine zone centered in Granada Hills, agriculture officials said Friday.

The insects were all captured on a single property near the intersection of Branford Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard, about a block inside a 76-square-mile quarantine zone. The zone was declared in July, when dozens of wild flies were trapped in the Granada Hills-Mission Hills area.

"Right now, it . . . appears to be a small infestation that we should be able to handle without much trouble," said Carl DeWing, information officer for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

In response to the latest find, he said, the quarantine zone will be extended eastward by an as-yet-undetermined distance.

Residents of the quarantine area--which now includes all or parts of Granada Hills, Mission Hills, Northridge, Pacoima, San Fernando and Sylmar--are to keep all home-grown produce on their property to avoid spreading the hungry pests.

Currently, there are four separate quarantine areas covering nearly 800 square miles in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, resulting from fruit fly discoveries in recent months. The insects are considered a serious threat to the state's $18-billion agriculture industry.

DeWing said officials are less concerned about the Pacoima discovery than the trapping of 14 wild flies in Santa Ana on Wednesday and Thursday. DeWing said these captures involved multiple properties and included two females carrying eggs.

In response to the Pacoima trappings, officials said workers would cut fruit in the immediate area to search for fly larvae and would employ two types of traps, including sticky panels baited with a sex pheromone.

DeWing said it was uncertain if sterile Medflies will be introduced in the area as was done in July, when about 42 million neutered insects were released in the air and on the ground.

Officials said residents of the quarantine area can eat home-grown fruits and vegetables on their property or throw the surplus in their trash, taking care to double-bag it.

But produce must be cooked, canned, frozen or processed if it is to be removed from the property.

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