Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Science and can-do spirit intersect impressively in Southern California pest programs

Secretary Ross with Medfly Preventative Release Program supervisor Ian Walters on the tarmac at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.

A trip to Southern California this week was a welcome reminder of the remarkable work our employees do to protect us from threats posed by invasive species.

My first stop was the joint CDFA/USDA Medfly Preventative Release Program in Los Alamitos. Every day small airplanes fly over the Los Angeles Basin and release millions of sterile Medflies that are reared at the Los Alamitos location and loaded up at an adjacent air strip. The sterile flies have a simple mission – locate any wild Medflies in the environment and mate with them. As Medflies mate just once, the steriles disrupt the pest’s life cycle. The program has been effect for nearly 25 years and has brought a dramatic reduction in the number of Medfly infestations in California.

Secretary Ross with ACP/HLB program manager Magally Luque-Williams at a Southern California property where the tree in the foreground was removed due to HLB.

Another project housed at Los Alamitos is emergency response for Asian citrus psyllid/Huanglongbing (ACP/HLB) detections in Southern California. This program is critical as we continue our work to protect California’s heritage citrus trees at residences and in commercial orchards. I was able to view ACP treatment, HLB tree removal, and delimitation work. It was all enlightening and it left me feeling grateful for the professionalism of our staff and the cooperation and goodwill of the community where all these activities take place.

A great example of that goodwill came near the end of the day – two young children at a house where our crews were working came out with a thank you note and a big hug!


The Los Alamitos programs have been headquartered for years in a complex of aging trailers. The dedication and can-do spirit of our staff is the secret to our success there. There is an absolute need for a modernized facility!


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