“It’s really important to get on top of this fast,” noting that while the department had found just three flies, “there’s probably more.”
To combat what the department called an “infestation,” officials have quarantined a 69-square-mile area surrounding the neighborhood. They’ve also urged gardeners to consume the produce they grow only at home, and told people to double bag any fruit scraps before putting them into the trash. Officials said they planned to drop around 250,000 sterile male flies per square mile each week into the area near where the wild flies were found.
The barren males are bred at labs in Hawaii and Guatemala (where the pest is already present), and as pupae are dyed pink or orange to distinguish them from fertile flies. Each week, more than 200 million of the fluorescent insects are shipped to Los Alamitos, Calif., for distribution. After being carefully incubated, and later, fed a diet of sugar, water and an algae derivative, the adult flies are then loaded into planes with “release chutes” that evenly distribute them.