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Home > Emergencies > Historical Response

Pest Infestations

In the early 1980s, an infestation of the Mediterranean fruit fly threatened California’s agriculture industry.  The Medfly, considered one of the world’s worst agricultural pests, threatened more than a dozen California crops.


CCC crews -- more than 1,000 corpsmembers -- were dispatched to strip fruit from trees in Santa Clara County in 1980 and 1981. This remains the largest emergency response in CCC history.


It was in July 1981 that then-Director B.T. Collins took a swig of malathion -- the same dilution of the pesticide as was being aerially sprayed in the area -- in front of the assembled corpsmembers at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.  He lived to tell.


CCC Director B.T. Collins in 1981, after drinking malathion in front of corpsmembers at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds.


Over the years, corpsmembers have assisted the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in other pest eradication efforts, including the apple maggot, fire ants, gypsy moth, glassy-winged sharpshooter, Mexican fruit fly and more.


Fruit stripping to combat fruit flies


In 2003, the CCC devoted more than 300,000 hours and five months to combating Exotic Newcastle Disease, a deadly bird disease that could be easily spread from infected birds to other birds.  Corpsmembers, clad in protective gear, cleaned and disinfected yards and disposed of debris and infected birds.


Corpsmembers preparing to help combat Exotic Newcastle Disease in 2003.

Historical Response