Growers in Miami-Dade County are beginning to show some optimism concerning the outbreak of Oriental fruit fly. That’s because the quarantine is within weeks of being lifted.
The Oriental fruit fly is one of the most aggressive fruit flies known worldwide. It has been responsible for considerable damage to citrus in Japan and to mangos in the Philippines. Since 1964, when the pest was found in southern Florida for the first time, it has been contained on 10 different occasions. Ominously, more flies have been found in the latest outbreak than in any of the previous 10. The price for failure to eradicate the insect is great: It attacks more than 430 vegetables, fruits and nuts in our region!
Since the current outbreak of the dreaded fly was first spotted in late August 2015, 85 square miles in the southern part of Miami-Dade County were quarantined. Later on, the area was enlarged. Under the protocols of the eradication program, the quarantine will be lifted at the end of the third life cycle since the date on which the last Oriental fruit fly was detected. The target date is tentatively believed to be February 12, but the exact time is temperature-dependent. When temperatures are warm, as they have been most of the winter, the fly’s life cycle is shorter. However, cooler temperatures lengthen the life cycle, and lately our region has experienced a couple of cool snaps.
But barring any surprises, growers throughout southern Florida should be able to breathe a sigh of relief very soon, and our worst outbreak of Oriental Fruit Fly will be a thing of the past.