Fruit Fly Threatens State's Olives

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, February 25, 2008

It’s a fruit fly that plagues olives. The bug first appeared in California 10 years ago and has spread across the state. Hannah Burrack is an expert on the olive fruit fly. She teaches entomology at North Carolina State University.

Burrack explained how the pest infiltrates an olive on KXJZ's Insight.  

"It lays its egg inside of the olive (the female). The larvae then develop inside there and they basically cause the olive to be inedible and unusable for production."

Burrack says the best shield against the pest is for farmers to apply an organic insecticide every week. But agriculture officials say that’s not realistic.

Joe Connell is in charge of pest management for Butte County – an area hit hard by the olive fruit fly. 

"To introduce another cultural practice of spraying on a weekly basis - that takes up a lot of their time, as well as it increases their cost."  

Connell says weekly insecticide applications would cost farmers more than $100 per acre.

California has about 30,000 acres of olives.