Less than two months after Texas—and the United States at large—were declared free of the citrus-destroying Mexican fruit fly, a mated female Mex Fly was discovered in a trap in Cameron County Mar. 2, forcing USDA- APHIS to implement an 81 square mile regulated area to contain the pest and to initiate rules on how the Valley citrus industry must deal with the new development.

Currently the Texas Department of Agriculture is working on an official quarantine zone plan that will isolate a nine-square mile area around where the specimen was discovered. Until that takes place, USDA is enforcing what they term an “individual hold notice” of non-harvested fruit in the regulated area.

Larry Hawkins, spokesman for USDA-APHIS, says the federal agency is waiting for state action to prevent the USDA from issuing a broader quarantine area that would involve the entire State of Texas.

“USDA can issue only a statewide quarantine unless the state agency in charge, in this case the Texas Department of Agriculture, issues a more localized quarantine area. Once that happens, USDA will parallel the State’s quarantine zone and issue control guidelines,” Hawkins said in a telephone conference Mar. 6.