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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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