Here’s what to know about the fruit quarantine at Scripps

A drawing of a fruit fly landing on an orange slice, next to a whole orange.
(Nicole Cepeda • The Student Life)

Scripps orchards are currently on a 45-day quarantine to prevent the spread of an invasive fruit fly.

On Aug. 28, Scripps College Facilities and Operations informed students by email that a single fruit fly from an invasive species had been detected in the citrus at Scripps. 

The email told students to follow the 45-day quarantine by consuming fruit from Scripps trees only on campus, double-bagging waste fruit and vegetables and halting compost efforts.

Bactrocera dorsalis is an invasive species native to Southeast Asia that spread from Hawaii to the mainland United States in the early 2000s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If the female fruit fly lays eggs in fruits or vegetables, the larvae feed on the plant, potentially causing bacterial infections if humans consume the fruit infested with maggots.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, which detected the fruit fly, is unsure of how it ended up at Scripps, according to Steve Lyle, director of public affairs for the department.

Fruit within the quarantine area is still edible as long as it does not contain larvae, Lyle said.

Scripps is in the “monitor and control phase” of the quarantine and no additional recommendations for treatment have been given yet, Joya Salas, Scripps’ landscape operations manager, told TSL via email.

Erica Matthisen SC ’25 is the garden coordinator for Scripps Student Garden, a club that manages a small garden at the college. She said that the detection of the fruit fly means that the club has had to stop composting because “fruit flies love compost.”

“It’s a little bit sad because I feel like it’s important for us to be able to compost and now we can’t compost at the community garden,”said Olivia Rose SC ’26, a member of Scripps Student Garden.

Other than that, Matthisen said that the efforts of their club have been minimally affected. She continues to eat fruit from the garden and hopes that the quarantine will successfully eradicate the fruit flies.

“We’re hoping that it was just a fluke, it was just one fruit fly, it died lonely,” Matthisen said. “[And] when they do the research after the quarantine, they’ll find no fruit flies and then we can just go back to business as usual.”

Although some sources refer to the fly as the “Asian fruit fly,” it is more commonly known as the “Oriental fruit fly.”

The fly was named at a time when the United States referred to all of Asia as “the Orient” and people or products from Asia as “Oriental,” terms that have since been critiqued as exoticizing and discriminatory.

Signs at Scripps informing students about the fruit fly and the quarantine have had the word “Oriental” crossed out with marker.

The fly is thought to have traveled to Hawaii with U.S. military troops and supplies returning from fighting World War II in the Pacific region, according to the Texas Invasive Species Institute.

In August, the fruit fly was also found in large swaths of two counties in the Bay area, Contra Costa County and Santa Clara County, resulting in quarantines of around 100 square miles in each.

Lyle said that, although the detection at Scripps is unrelated to those in the Bay Area, the flies are a common occurrence in California.

“We detect Oriental fruit flies pretty much every year in California and successfully eradicate them,” Lyle said.

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