Mexican fruit flies have citrus producers under quarantine

A Mexican fruit quarantine is in place in one Texas town, and it is something that can devastate their crops.

These giant orchards on the Texas border with Mexico are being hindered by this little fly. Twenty-five percent of the orchards in the district are under quarantine.

The USDA is taking steps to prevent the Mexican fruit fly from doing too much damage.

According to citrus producer Fred Karle, “If they find an actual live Mexican fly or larvae on a grove, well then a certain area there will be quarantined and will just have to go to juice, which is a big loss.”

Citrus producers in Cameron County, Texas, right on the border with Mexico, are already paying a high price this season.

“USDA is working to eradicate. We’re technically in a eradication program,” Texas Citrus Mutual’s Dale Murden states. “We have these flare ups from time to time. If you happen to be in a quarantine, it does add costs to your growth care, your bottom line is going to be affected.”

The USDA in Harlingen, Texas showed us this a container filled with Mexican fruit flies, but these fruit flies are sterile and there is a reason the USDA needs them. The sterile flies are part of the fight against the fruit flies.

Murden explains, “They’re grown on and reared here by USDA... and those are sterile flies that we release daily to the tune of about 150 million flies per week.”

He says that sterile flies can quickly eliminate wild flies: “The sterile fly ends up rendering the fall fly incapable of reproduction.”

However, citrus producers are nervous about losses this year even when they are only nearby Cameron County.

“We’re having to do an excessive amount of bait spraying to try and get our groves certified for harvest,” Karle adds.


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