University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Wendy's Wanderings

Destructive Pests Affect Us All

October 2, 2015

In the "Friend or Foe" section of this month's newsletter you'll see that we are reporting on the Oriental fruit fly and the state of emergency associated with the insect in South Florida. You may think, "This doesn't impact my garden or my landscape personally, so why should I care?" But as Floridians I think we should always care when there is a threat to our agriculture industry and our Florida farmers.

When I studied the quarantine map of the area where fruit cannot be sold or moved from, I saw the street in South Florida that I grew up on, and that the farm where I was raised was in the 85 square mile quarantine zone.

All of a sudden I was aware; this Oriental fruit fly did affect me personally. My father still farms here and grows avocados, mangoes, lychee, longan, sapodilla, bananas, and annonas there—all of these are listed as host fruits for the Oriental fruit fly.

Trapping and treating for the destructive fruit fly is underway, but the fruits and vegetables from the farms in the Redland agricultural area cannot be sold or even moved off the quarantined property until February. This date might even be extended further out if more flies are found in the area. It is a huge financial impact for the area's farmers, and I'm sad to know that the produce from the farms is a loss for this season.

What can you do? Strictly follow the guidelines set up by the Department of Agriculture on www.freshfromflorida.com to cooperate with the quarantine rules. And never smuggle any plant material in the U.S.—including fruits, vegetables, seeds, and plants. You might unknowingly bring in the next pest to cause a state of emergency to an agriculture zone. The loss to Florida's agricultural industry from casual smuggling of plant material is too high and it impacts all Floridians personally.

-- Wendy Wilber

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