An 85 square mile area encompassing a large chunk of our Redland agricultural lands is under quarantine for the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF). As of this posting, the quarantine will be lifted the end of January, provided no more flies are found. This is a severe infestation, but thankfully contained to a relatively small core area. Because this fly has a very varied appetite, restrictions are in place on movement of fruit, fruiting vegetables (such as tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans, cukes, eggplant), and even some ornamentals (ylang-ylang, jasmine, brugmansia, even some orchids). There are also restrictions on harvesting, with certain required pre-harvest or post-harvest treatments to ensure no eggs or larva are lurking in the shipments.
Anyone growing, handling, or selling items on the very long list of things this fly infests is asked to complete a compliance agreement. The agreement explains the rules and restrictions, and allows one to continue restricted operations within the requirements. Farm stands are being closely monitored for compliance, and required to provide protective screening on the displays of fruits and vegetables. Motorists moving fruit and vegetables in the quarantine area carrying fruit are subject to inspection.
Anything you care to know (and more) can be found in the Oriental Fruit Fly Information section of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ website. There is also a hotline number to call with questions, fly sightings, or concerns: 888-397-1517.