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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 Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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