Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann Mediterranean fruit fly

This insect is a notorious pest, capable of causing destruction of citrus fruits, peaches and various other fruits. Although established in many warmer parts of the world, including areas surrounding the Mediterranean, parts of Africa, Central and South America, its occurrence in cooler areas, such as northwestern Europe, is usually dependent upon the initial accidental importation of live larvae in consignments of harvested fruits. Many countries operate rigorous quarantine or eradication measures to prevent this pest from becoming established. Larvae feed within the flesh of infested fruits and cause extensive damage; attacked fruits may drop prematurely and are often invaded by secondary bacterial and fungal pathogens. Fruits damaged only by adult oviposition 'strikes' are also unmarketable.


This species overwinters in the pupal stage, adults emerging in the spring. When laying eggs, adult females make a distinctive hole (up to 5 mm deep) in the surface of a fruit, into which one or several eggs are laid; this oviposition puncture later becomes surrounded by a sunken area of rotting tissue. Larvae feed within the flesh of the infested fruit and, when fully grown, emerge to pupate in the soil. There are several generations in a season, the rate of development (and, hence, number of generations) depending considerably on temperature. At optimum temperatures of 32°C, development is very rapid, the life-cycle then being completed in approximately 2 weeks.


Adult 4-5 mm long; head yellowish; eyes colourful and iridescent; thorax black, marked with greyish-brown; wings clear, with black veins and dark spots and orange markings; legs yellowish; abdomen stubby, orange-yellow and with two silvery-white crossbands, the female with a distinct oviscapt. Egg 1mm long, white, elongate and somewhat banana-shaped. Larva up to 8 mm long; yellowish-white, subcylindrical, tapering anteriorly; mouth-hooks distinctly curved and claw-like, with the tip directed downwards (cf. European cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis cerasi, p. 180). Puparium 4-5 mm long, reddish-brown.

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