Mexican Fruit Fly Posing Threat to Citrus Growers

Posted: Updated:

BROWNSVILLE- Local citrus growers are on alert after a recent discovery of the Mexican fruit fly in Hidalgo and Willacy counties.

Currently, there are two quarantine zones for the fruit fly in Cameron County. Dale Murden said just seeing the fly could be disastrous for business.

"Basically, the race is on to get our fruit harvested before quarantine,” he said. “(It) could jeopardize the harvest of the fruit.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sighted five of the fruit flies in Hidalgo County and one in Willacy County.

Murden said the threat of another quarantine zone in the Rio Grande Valley could delay harvest and impact sales.

"We would begin the process of spraying the fruit, which is a 30-day certification process to be able to continue harvest,” Murden said.

Murden said citrus trees used in private properties are most concerning. In October, the USDA reported 12 sightings of the Mexican fruit fly. Nine of those sightings came from private-use trees.

Murden said those trees are not being properly maintained.

"It’s just like a hot bed for fruit fly or any other type of disease that might pop up,” Murden said.

Murden said people who own citrus trees can help prevent the spread of the Mexican fruit fly.

"One of the best things that our neighbors can do for us is get that fruit off the tree and destroy it, bag it, get it out of there,” he said.

Murden said any fruit left on the ground is a prime target for pests and diseases.

According to the USDA, the fruit fly was eradicated from Willacy County in 2008 and Hidalgo County in 2012.

Texas Citrus Mutual said they have destroyed 98 of the 120 infected trees under citrus canker quarantine in Cameron County. Currently, the citrus canker is only affecting lime trees in Rancho Viejo.