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Agricultural Research Service Hosts Fruit Fly Conference

By Alfredo Flores
May 14 2004

WASHINGTON, May 14—Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service will co-host the 5th Meeting of the Working Group of Fruit Flies of the Western Hemisphere, set for May 16-21 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The conference is designed to bring together entomologists, chemists, geneticists, biologists, taxonomists, consultants, managers and regulators who are actively involved in all aspects of tephritid fruit fly detection.

Among the attendees will be representatives from scientific organizations in Guatemala, Austria, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Suriname, the Netherlands and the United States. The speakers will discuss methods of detection, control and eradication, as well as biological control and regulatory procedures.

ARS' Subtropical Horticulture Research Station at Miami is co-hosting the meeting together with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Miami and the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville. APHIS manages programs using biological control for invasive species. ARS is the chief in-house scientific research agency of USDA.

Meeting participants will review research and formulate new goals and approaches to management strategies and action programs for Mediterranean fruit flies, also known as medflies, as well as Anastrepha, Bactrocera, Rhagoletis and other tephritid fruit flies.

The adult female medfly damages ripe fruit by making a hole and depositing her eggs under the skin of the fruit. Once the larvae hatch, they satisfy their appetites by feeding on the pulp of the fruit, rendering it unfit for human consumption. APHIS estimates that agricultural losses would be about $1.5 billion a year if medflies were to become established in the continental United States.