Yesterday, Plusnews broke the story of the detection of the infamous Mediterranean Fruit fly, also known as the Medfly, on the Sapodilla Caye in Southern Belize. Today, BAHA issued an official press release confirming those reports and adding that there was a second outbreak in the Hopkins Village last week. Its short life cycle coupled with its fast reproduction rate (going at an average of 300 eggs per every one female) make the medfly one of the most dangerous fruit pests in the world. For decades, Belize has enjoyed a MedFly free status, something our Latin American friends have not been able to enjoy. Last week, however, BAHA personnel detected the dangerous pest in the village of Hopkins and immediately kicked into effect their response strategy. Hernan Zetina is the Coordinator for the BAHA Medfly program, he tells us more.
“It’s been almost one year since the last detection was made and this was done in Jalacte in 2014. We have a surveillance program that we have in place for the timely detection for this pest. So, last week when the technician was reviewing the traps, he detected to medflies in the village of Hopkins. We have an emergency response plan and that was initiated immediately. What happened was on the 15th we began doing fruit stripping. All the fruits, the potential host fruits within a square kilometre were removed and these fruits are then destroyed. We also do delimiting trapping where we increase the trapping to see if an established population is in the area. Then we also began doing some ground spraying.”
“We also had four detections in the Sapodilla Cayes. We have a surveillance program where we visit the cayes one a month because we have had dectections there in the past as well. So in the 17th of July, four medflies were detected in three of their small islands and on July 19th, we began doing irradiation activities out in the Sapodilla Cayes as well.
Emanuel Pech – Plus TV Reporter
“Would you say that BAHA personnel’s have the matter under control?”
“We do. We do have the matter under control. We did some checks on the delimited traps and we did not find anything. We will continue to do weekly ground spraying and if it is necessary to do continues fruit stripping, we will do that. At this point, there is no need for quarantining the area. In the event that we do lose control, which we do not anticipate will happen, then we will establish an internal check point like we had to do in 2013 when we had a major outbreak in Hopkins.”
On July 17, last week Friday, BAHA personnel were doing routine checks at Sapodilla Caye when they detected another infestation of Medflies.
“We are asking the assistance of the general public in ensuring that whenever they bring in any fruits or vegetables into Belize, that they do so with a valid BAHA permit. If they don’t do that and bring in stuff illegally, that is when flies are introduced into Belize. “
Once Settled in Belize, the medflies could be detrimental to the Belizean economy, having a direct impact to the papaya industry, which exports fresh fruit to the US. For now however, the fruit industry is not in immediate danger. The ones who are feeling the full brunt of this infestation are the small entrepreneurs who would sell t local fruits such as mangoes, guava and craboo. BAHA continues to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to address this potentially damaging infestation.