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From trickle to flood: the large-scale, cryptic invasion of California by tropical fruit flies.

  • Author(s): Papadopoulos, Nikos T;
  • Plant, Richard E;
  • Carey, James R
  • et al.

Since 1954, when the first tropical tephritid fruit fly was detected in California, a total of 17 species in four genera and 11 386 individuals (adults/larvae) have been detected in the state at more than 3348 locations in 330 cities. We conclude from spatial mapping analyses of historical capture patterns and modelling that, despite the 250+ emergency eradication projects that have been directed against these pests by state and federal agencies, a minimum of five and as many as nine or more tephritid species are established and widespread, including the Mediterranean, Mexican and oriental fruit flies, and possibly the peach, guava and melon fruit flies. We outline and discuss the evidence for our conclusions, with particular attention to the incremental, chronic and insidious nature of the invasion, which involves ultra-small, barely detectable populations. We finish by considering the implications of our results for invasion biology and for science-based invasion policy.

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