LOS ANGELES -- California farmers have launched a campaign to teach residents how they can help control the spread of the Mediterranean fruit fly.
The campaign comes a few months after the state experienced its latest outbreak of the Medfly when some 400 flies were found by state agriculture officials in Southern California. The Medfly can destroy hundreds of varieties of fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables. The female lays its eggs under the skin of such items as oranges, peaches, plums, grapes, strawberries and apples. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed off the host fruit and turn it to mush.
The centerpiece of the campaign is a public education video developed by the Alliance for Food and Fiber, an industry-supported educational clearinghouse here dealing with food safety issues.
It tells viewers what they can do to prevent the spread of Medfly, such as not bringing produce into the state from foreign countries or Hawaii, asking friends and family not to send gifts of fresh produce into the state and not taking produce outside regions where the Medfly has been spotted.
The video is being distributed to government officials, public libraries, civic organizations and cable television stations throughout the state.
California produces more than 50% of the nation's produce. If the Medfly establishes itself there, it could wipe out more than 25% of the produce industry, according to Doug Hendrix, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Medfly Project.