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Shoo, Medfly, don’t bother me.

September 20, 2010

After a summer of battle with the infamous Mediterranean fruit fly, DPI came out victorious. The state’s Division of Plant Industry, along with its federal counterparts, worked diligently to eradicate the Medfly and continue to protect Florida’s agriculture industry, environment and economy from the potential devastation this pest could bring to the state.

Commissioner Bronson announced September 1 that eradication has been declared in the Medfly outbreak in Palm Beach County. This means that regulations have been lifted and fruit movement is no longer prohibited. Eradication is achieved when three life cycles of the Medfly, or about 60 days, have passed without finding another wild Medfly.

The Medfly is considered the most serious of the world’s fruit fly pests due to its potential economic harm and threat to our food supply. It attacks more than 250 different fruits, vegetables and nuts, including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, apples, guava, mango, tomatoes and peppers. Population growth may be explosive, as females are capable of producing hundreds of eggs.

The Medfly eradication program was successful because of the outstanding efforts of DPI’s Incident Control Team. However, credit is due to the Floridians who cooperated with the eradication efforts. Eradication programs cannot be successful without public support.

Federal and state agriculture officials will continue to educate the public about the risks associated with bringing agricultural products illegally into the state that may harbor harmful pests and diseases like the Medfly. Illegal agricultural products are often introduced into the state unknowingly by visitors. However, one piece of infested fruit likely cause this multi-million dollar eradication program that prevented residents from enjoying, and businesses from selling, their fruit and vegetables for a  three-month period, and could have potentially wiped out entire crops.

Help keep Florida Medfly-free! Keep our message in mind: “Don’t Pack a Pest — when traveling, don’t move agricultural products.” Also, purchasing plants from registered Florida nurseries and reporting suspicious plant pests and diseases helps to protect the state. More information can be found on DPI’s website, and you can also call our toll-free help number at 888-397-1517 or e-mail us at DPI-blog@doacs.state.fl.us.

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