Florida agricultural inspectors have discovered Oriental fruit flies in a grapefruit tree on the state’s west coast.

Florida officials find Oriental fruit flies in Tampa area

Courtesy Fla. Dept. of Agriculture 

Agricultural inspectors have discovered Oriental fruit flies in a grapefruit tree in the Tampa, Fla., area.

Inspectors found the two male flies in a trap in a grapefruit tree in Safety Harbor, Fla., during routine surveillance conducted in August by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Plant Industry.

On Oct. 5, Denise Feiber, a department public information director, said inspectors hadn’t found any additional flies and continue to check traps on a weekly basis.

If the department doesn’t find any more, it plans to declare the fruit fly as eradicated on Dec. 20, which will equate to three fly life cycles, she said.

The agency intensified its trapping program within an 81-square mile area surrounding the tree, which was found inside the Tampa, Fla., Clearwater, Fla., and St. Petersburg, Fla., metropolitan area.

Similar to the Mediterranean fruit fly, which inspectors found in June in south Florida in a Boca Raton, Fla., residential area, the Oriental fruit flies are considered one of the most serious of the world’s fruit fly pests.

The Oriental fruit fly attacks more than 100 fruits, vegetables and nuts, including apples, citrus, guava, mangoes, tomatoes and peppers.

After the flies lay eggs in the fruits and vegetables, the larvae hatch after a couple of weeks and make item inedible.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said the find is disturbing because of the extreme risks associated with exotic fruit fly infestations.

“However, it is a clear indication that our fruit fly detection and monitoring program is working well, and fortunately, we have developed effective emergency response plans that in most cases allow us to quickly eradicate these dangerous pests,” he said in a news release. “The state, along with our federal partners, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are pouring all available resources to address the fruit fly find.”

The flies, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Tephritidae), weren’t found in a major fresh citrus growing region.