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Two Oriental fruit flies found in Meadowview

Oriental fruit flies look like large houseflies with yellow markings.
(Photos: Courtesy CDFA)
Dreaded pest may prompt another quarantine of fruit and vegetables

Expect to see more bug traps and netting. Sacramento County is back on OFF watch.

After a nine-month quarantine for Oriental fruit fly ended in June, two more of the pests were discovered in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood and confirmed July 10, reports Sacramento County’s agricultural commissioner. Hundreds of traps have been set up in circles going out 4.5 miles from the detection site to see if any more pests are hanging around.

Last year, 16 OFFs were discovered in South Sacramento, prompting a quarantine of 123 square miles. Fruit and vegetables could not be moved out of that area or donated to food banks. Local farmers markets were shrouded in netting.

Officials haven’t instituted another quarantine – yet – but will if more flies (particularly females) are found.

“Fruit flies are serious pests for California farming and backyard gardens,” said Sacramento County Interim Agricultural Commissioner Chris Flores. “These recent detections on the heels of last year’s Oriental fruit fly detections reminds us to be vigilant in protecting our agricultural and natural resources including our local community gardens and gleaning programs. When traveling abroad or mailing packages to California, we urge the public not to bring back or mail fruits, vegetables or meat products as they are pathways for OFF and other invasive species entering our state.”

Considered among the worst invasive pests, Oriental fruit flies attack about 230 California crops, including citrus, stone fruit, apples, tomatoes and peppers. Infestations often start in suburban or urban areas, which means home gardeners need to be on the lookout.

The Oriental fruit fly is slightly larger than a house fly and bears distinctive yellow and black markings.

If you spot one or think you saw one, contact the Sacramento County ag office at 916-875-6603.

For more on Oriental fruit flies, see these pest notes from the state Department of Food and Agriculture at .


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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