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VALLEY CENTER, Calif. — The California Department of Food and Agriculture is urging anyone growing or packing “host” fruit in Valley Center and surrounding areas to not move fruit off their properties due to the agricultural pest known as Mexican fruit flies.

The 77-square-mile quarantine area, which was declared on Aug. 19 after CDFA discovered several Mexican fruit flies, is bordered on the north by Pauma Valley, on the south by Lake Wohlford, on the west by the Moosa Canyon and on the east by Rincon Reservation, Donna Durckel with the County of San Diego reported in an article.

Mexican fruit flies can infect more than 50 types of fruit, including citrus, avocados and a wide variety of tropical fruit, according to the state’s food and agriculture team.

“Female flies inject their eggs inside ripening fruit. Hatched larvae then eat the fruit’s flesh, causing it to rot and drop to the ground. Larvae crawl out of the rotting fruit and into the ground to pupate. Adult flies emerge from the ground in 12 to 100-days, depending on temperatures. A single female fly can lay several thousand eggs in their lifetime,” Durckel stated.

The agricultural value within the quarantine boundaries amounts to $46 million of San Diego County’s $1.8 billion, per county officials.

Those impacted by the quarantine — commercially or in private yards — should consume homegrown produce on-site.

Residents with questions are encouraged to call the consumer hotline at (800) 491-1899.