State agricultural officials are waging war against the Oriental fruit fly in the nearby Santa Clarita Valley.
The campaign is the first of its kind in the Santa Clarita area, where five flies were trapped over two days last month, but it is one of several under way in Southern California since the flies turned up in Pasadena in 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Slightly larger than a housefly, the fly is typically found in Hawaii and Micronesia, according to the newspaper. It poses a threat to scores of fruits and vegetables, including dates, avocados, tomatoes and peppers.
Females lay eggs in fruit and the larvae then tunnel through the flesh. The flies could cause as much as $176 million in crop damage if they become established in California, officials told The Times.
Pasadena's 2010 outbreak was quashed after officials quarantined a huge area and barred backyard gardeners from moving plants from their properties. Infestations in Baldwin Park, North Hollywood and elsewhere were similarly confronted.
To combat the flies in the Santa Clarita Valley, where they threaten citrus and other crops, workers from the California Department of Food and Agriculture have squirted pesticide-laden bait about eight to 10 feet up on the trunks of trees along streets, Ken Pellman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner, told The Times.
The male of the species consumes the bait and dies. About 600 bait stations were placed across the 16-square-mile area where the flies were found, The Times reported. The process will be repeated at intervals over 12 weeks.
Officials told The Times the technique exposes people to only "negligible" pesticide residue.