HAPPY VALLEY— Olive fruit flies have been discovered for the first time in Shasta County.
“This is the farthest north they have ever been,” said Paul Kjos, deputy commissioner of the Shasta County Agricultural Department.
The were found late last month and early this month in detection traps in the Happy Valley-Olinda area, where most of the county’s roughly 500 acres of olive trees are located.
The department plans to monitor the traps the rest of the growing season, through September or October, to gauge the extent of the infestation.
If not controlled, the olive fruit fly, first observed in North America in 1998, can damage a grower’s entire crop, Kjos said.
“Any fruit that the eggs are laid in are destroyed,” Kjos said.
Adult female fruit flies lay eggs in olive fruits, but it is the developing larvae that actually damage the fruit, he said.
Kjos said his department is working with growers, processors and other northern counties to find ways to fight the pest. Tehama County, for instance, immediately to the south, has been spraying orchards from the air and ground with pesticide.