San Diego County Farms Remain Under Quarantine

Quarantines in place to contain two invasive pests that could damage citrus trees and other crops.

by Dani Yokhna

Pests have put San Diego County farms under quarantine
Photo courtesy USDA/ Scott Bauer
The Mediterranean fruit fly is one of two invasive species found in San Diego County, Calif., causing area farms to be under quarantine.

San Diego County, Calif., has been under quarantine since mid-November and will continue to be so until two invasive insects threatening the county’s citrus trees and other fruits and vegetables are removed.

As a result of the quarantine, small farmers and local gardeners are being asked not to move fruits and vegetables they grow off their property and to consume them only on-site, according to a statement released by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The agriculture department will be implementing two methods to eradicate the pests.

To target the Asian citrus psyllid, the agriculture department is treating plants with a ground application of Tempo, made with the synthetic insecticide cyfluthrin, and following with soil injection of Merit. The same method was used to contain the pest in Los Angeles in September 2009.

The Asia citrus psyllid can carry the citrus greening disease huanglongbing (HLB), but no cases of HLB have been found in California, said Steve Lyle, CDFA spokesperson.

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An organic treatment, Naturalyte, made with the naturally occurring bacteria spinosad, is being used to target the Mediterranean fruit fly. The use of this treatment followed the release of sterile Medflies into the area and the removing of fruit from trees within 100 miles of infested sites, according to the CDFA.

Suzie’s Farm, an organic farm affected by the quarantine, has not experienced any damage from the pests, but owner Robin Taylor supports the quarantine and eradication methods.

“The product being sprayed is a bait to attract any other Medfly in the area,” she said. “If this will save our products in the future, then I’m all for it.”

The quarantine will be lifted once the CDFA stops detecting the pests, Lyle said.

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