Nearly $700 million worth of fruit is about to go to waste in Miami-Dade county due to an impending invasion of the Oriental fruit fly.
Who knew that such a tiny fly could cause such massive damage? According to a report from Newsweek, the invasive oriental fruit fly has overtaken a large and productive agricultural region in Miami-Dade County in Florida, virtually shutting down the $700 million industry.
The fly is capable of feeding on and reproducing in nearly 400 different types of fruits. The invasion was first reported in Miami a few weeks ago, and has since spread to Redland, home to a large collection of papaya, tomato, and dragon fruit farms.
Florida’s agricultural commissioner Adam Putnam declared a quarantine of 85 square miles in the region, an area larger than Manhattan and the Bronx combined. Crops are currently stuck in the area, and much of the fruit is at risk of being wasted. The quarantine has been ongoing for two weeks as officials investigate the fruit fly problem.
Local farmer Salvador Fernandez reported that the quarantine would likely cost him about 20 million pounds of dragon fruit and another 500,000 pounds of a fruit known as mamey.
The fruit flies pierce the fruit after feeding on it to lay their eggs, which typically renders the fruit inedible. The state is weighing its options to address the problem, though they are hesitant to aerially spray insecticides on the quarantine area.
So far, just 159 individual flies are behind the quarantine. Officials hope that they can keep numbers low, but an increase would almost certainly lead to more drastic eradication efforts.