Medfly Madness

A pesky insect has Southern California up in arms

The tiny, blue-eyed Mediterranean fruit fly has a way of provoking political distemper in California. In 1981, amid a furor over spraying to control a 1,400-sq.-mi. outbreak, the director of the California Conservation Corps flamboyantly swallowed and survived a big -- albeit heavily diluted -- mouthful of the insecticide Malathion to demonstrate its safety. Nothing quite so theatrical has been attempted during the latest medfly visitation, which began five months ago. But state food and agriculture department officials responsible for the anti-medfly campaign have stood under a drizzle of the pesticide showering from a helicopter. Unconvinced, some irate citizens are barring...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!