Florida officials are fortifying their program to fight Medflies.
The state is adding more troops to its defense against the Mediterranean fruit fly by releasing sterile flies over an expanded area of south Florida.
On Oct. 13, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee, plans to start releasing sterile fruit flies three times a week over a 16-square-mile area of Broward County, the home of Port Everglades.
The state’s Sterile Insect Technique and Mediterranean Fruit Fly Preventive Release Program is a biologically-based reproduction control method that rears and releases sterilized male flies to overtake wild male mating of female flies.
The lack of offspring produced by the species-specific matings doesn’t harm the environment, according to a news release.
So far, officials have released sterile males in Miami, Sarasota, Fla., and Tampa, Fla.
The first phase of the program, which runs through January, the sterile males released in an area between the Miami-Dade and Broward County line and the Fort Lauderdale International Airport.
“Since the sterile fly release initiative’s inception in 1999, no major fruit fly outbreak has occurred,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said in the release. “Prior to that time, over $50 million had been spent to eradicate just two outbreaks in the late 1990s.”
The expanded release effort is part of a Sarasota-based Medfly preventive release program involving a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine and the Florida agriculture department’s Division of Plant Industry.