VAN NUYS — In the latest foray in the war against the Mediterranean fruit fly, state and federal agriculture officials ordered the spraying of malathion bait in Pacoima and unveiled plans to establish a satellite abatement office at the Van Nuys Airport.
Malathion bait was sprayed Tuesday by ground crews in Pacoima after the discovery of seven fruit flies in two back-yard trees, increasing by about 15 square miles the existing 76-square-mile quarantine area in the San Fernando Valley.
On another front, state agricultural officials announced Wednesday that they plan to lease property at Van Nuys Airport to establish a Medfly abatement office where young sterile Medflies will be kept before ground and air releases to try and breed the insect out of existence.
The satellite office, which will be run out of trailers beginning sometime next month, will be based at the airport site formerly occupied by the Air National Guard, said Pat Minyard, program supervisor for the Department of Food and Agriculture. The office will remain at the airport for at least a year, he said.
A Van Nuys Airport citizens advisory panel voted unanimously Tuesday night to support the leasing of airport property for the abatement office. The final lease agreement must be approved by the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners.
Currently, the war on the Medfly is headquartered out of offices at Elysian Park, South El Monte and Los Alamitos. Minyard said the satellite office in the Valley will make it easier to fight the growing infestation in the Valley.
"It's difficult to run anything out of one office when everything is scattered around," he said.
The last time Van Nuys Airport was used in the battle of the Medfly was in July, 1990, when helicopters lifted off from the airfield to spray malathion on infested communities near downtown Los Angeles. The use of the airport prompted protests from City Councilman Joel Wachs, who spearheaded a ban on the use of city airports to spray malathion.
Minyard said there are no plans for aerial spraying of malathion by operating out of Van Nuys Airport.
The latest round of spraying of malathion bait, an insecticide that kills the flies only after the bait has been ingested, took place Tuesday after seven fruit flies were found last week in two trees near Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Branford Street in Pacoima.
Larry Hawkins, a spokesman for the Cooperative Medfly Project, said ground crews sprayed malathion bait on trees and bushes in a 200-meter radius around the trees where the flies were found. That included about 200 to 300 homes, he said.
The new Medfly discovery extended the quarantine area that was originally established in the Valley in July after 36 wild Medflies were found in Granada Hills and Mission Hills.
Hawkins said the new quarantine boundaries, which establish an area where the transport of fruits and vegetables is prohibited, are not official until they are filed with the secretary of state's office, a process that he said would be completed within the next week.
Medfly Quarantine Expanded The latest San Fernando Valley Medfly discovery began when seven flies were found in traps set in Pacoima between Aug. 31 and Sept.3. Those discoveries led government agricultural officials to add the area below to the existing quarantine.