Solano County Officials Detect Medfly in Fairfield

Medfly, the Mediterranean fruit fly in close up (File – Courtesy: Getty Images)

FAIRFIELD -- An adult Mediterranean Fruit Fly was found in Fairfield's Tolenas neighborhood last week, Solano County officials said.

The county says crews searched the area "extensively" and laid medfly traps. Crews are also working to see if the medfly represents an active, breeding population or if it was an isolated incident.

“So we’re very concerned, that’s why we put out 1,100 extra traps in that 81 square mile area. That’s a big work effort to service them and check them. It’s a big intensive survey. So we’re very concerned. But unless we find another fly or another life stage, there is no quarantine,” said Solano County Agricultural Commissioner Jim Allan.

A single medfly was found in Vacaville last October. It was the only one, so no quarantine was necessary. A quarantine was ordered in Dixon a decade ago after several medflies were found.

“When we had a quarantine in 2007-2008 in the Dixon area, we had over $1 million worth of grower losses because of the inability to ship their commodities out of the Dixon area,” Allan said.

Native to the Mediterranean region, the medfly is an invasive pest that has been found in Australia and the Americas.

The females like to lay their eggs just beneath the skin of fruit and sometimes vegetables.

"The eggs hatch into maggots, which then mine in the fruit and get bigger, destroying all the fruit that they tunnel through," Allan said.

There was a medfly invasion of California in 1989, which devastated crops. Experts said the invasion "defied logic" and some speculated it was biological terrorism.

If other medflies turn up in the traps, and an infestation is declared, Allan says there are ways to deal with it without using pesticides.

“We eradicated the ones in Dixon using primarily a sterile insect technique, dropping sterile medflies from the air above Dixon," Allan said.