South Florida grower voices concerns about fruit fly invasion

More than 400 fruits, vegetables threatened by oriental fruit fly

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – An oriental fruit fly invasion is putting growers in South Florida on alert. Fruit flies are destroying crops across southwest Miami-Dade County and now there is a battle to stop it from getting worse.

The invasive species has the potential to destroy more than 400 types of fruits and vegetables commonly found in the area.

Agriculture experts have discovered more than 100 male flies over the past month. They said the fruit flies lay its eggs in its host, which is fruits, and then the maggots that it lays destroys that produce.

So far, 6,000 pounds of fruit have been destroyed because of the fruit fly invasion, and now an 85-square mile quarantine is in effect in parts of southwest Miami-Dade, which includes Homestead and the Redlands.

Margie Pikarsky said the quarantine also affects her organic farm where she sells a variety of fruits and spices.

"It's way too close to home," Pikarsky said. "There are still a lot of people that don't know this is on, and they're very innocently like, 'I'm going to take this to my grandma. I'm going to take this to my friend in the city,' and that's how it moves, when you start moving the fruit around. So it's scary."

Because of the quarantine, Pikarsky is not able to sell her fruit at this time, although she said no fruit flies have been spotted on her farm.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County has implemented an eradication process, which includes placing thousands of traps in the area to try to get rid of these species.

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