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Irradiated Flies Coming To Florida Mainland To Stop Parasite

Judy Gallagher
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Agriculture officials will release flies sterilized with radiation in the Homestead area, where a stray dog was infected with a flesh-eating parasite.

In a statement, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said sterilized screwworm flies will be released Friday as a precaution "given that Florida's livestock industry is at stake."

Screwworms once cost the U.S. livestock industry millions every year.

Officials will release irradiated male flies to mate with wild females. Any eggs produced won't hatch, killing the fly population over time,

The state has been trying to keep screwworms in the Florida Keys from spreading to the mainland. Officials say the dog is the only animal infected north of the island chain.

Putnam says sterilized flies will be released around Homestead because there are "a lot of unknowns about the dog's history."