A pesky pest is invading citrus trees in the Valley, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking Hidalgo County residents to do what they can to stop the Mexican fruit flies in their tracks.
The USDA wants locals to know about the invasive fly that’s threatening crops in the Upper Valley.
They aren’t native to the Rio Grande Valley, and pose a risk to local crop production popular in the Edinburg-McAllen area, which is currently under a USDA-issued quarantine.
“There’s no risk to human health, the risk is really the commercial citrus that we have here in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Joseph Ramirez, U.S. Department of Agriculture, plant protection quarantine officer.
Because of that quarantine, residents are asked to avoid moving or mailing fruit, like grapefruits and citrus in Hidalgo County without proper inspection.
“There’s a variety of factors that affect the population of Mexican fruit flies – could be weather related, could just be the seasonality, and just the fact that we do have large commercial citrus production in the area,” Ramirez said.
If there’s any ripened fruit on trees, or any laying on the ground that won’t be eaten or used, it’s best to throw it out to make sure those fruit flies don’t have anywhere to lay their eggs and minimize the number flying out and about.
“There’s always a risk for Mexican fruit fly in the Rio Grande Valley because of prevailing winds, and we have a citrus industry here – we have fields out there, commercial citrus,” Ramirez said.
USDA officials are expecting that quarantine to continue through July 31.