State agricultural officials have declared war on the Oriental fruit fly in the Santa Clarita Valley after five flies were trapped there over two days last month.
The action is the first for the Santa Clarita area but is one of several in Southern California since the invasive flies turned up in Pasadena in 2010.
Slightly larger than a housefly and marked by a black "T" on its yellow abdomen, the fly is typically found in Hawaii and Micronesia. It poses a threat to scores of fruits and vegetables here, 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 say.