Biologists discovered three oriental fruit flies – bactrocera
dorsalis – in Hope Ranch traps late last week. That brings the
oriental fruit fly count to four in Santa Barbara County since the
trapping program began two decades ago. The first, and until now
the last, such fly was discovered in the late 1990s. County
Agricultural Commissioner William Gillette speculated that the Hope
Ranch flies’ larvae entered the county in fruit smuggled here from
the tropics. The find triggered an eradication program that began
Saturday in a one-and-a-half-square-mile radius around the traps,
which brought objections from some residents to the use of toxic
pesticides. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is
using a chemical called dibrom, embedded in an attractant gel which
is applied to telephone polls and tall trees. The gel lures and
kills all the male flies – a process called “male annihilation.” To
delay eradication for a discussion of less toxic alternatives,
according to Gillette, would result in householders applying large
quantities of pesticide in their own yards, and a possible
quarantine of California produce. A special bacterium on bactrocera
dorsalis’s eggs rots fruit as diverse as avocados and bay laurel


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