SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Authorities are releasing millions of sterile Mediterranean fruit flies in San Diego County to battle an infestation of the crop-eating pest.

State agriculture officials announced Tuesday that a mated female Medfly was found in Escondido last week. A few days later, authorities began releasing sterile flies over a nine square miles.

Officials also plan to treat trees with an insecticide and set up a quarantine area for fruits and vegetables that may carry the Medfly.

Quarantines already are in effect for Mira Mesa and Imperial Beach areas of the county.

Medflies can harm more than 260 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Agriculture officials say an infestation could do as much as $280 million in damage to San Diego County crops.

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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