Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly)

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Adult of Ceratitis capitata
Adult of Ceratitis capitata

The insect Mediterranean Fruit Fly, the Ceratitis capitata or Medfly, is one of the most serious pest of cultivated plants and, especially, fruit production worldwide.

It attacks more than 350 plant species and the damage it causes amounts to several hundred million dollars per year.

These level of championship catastrophic performance of the arthropod, have forced many countries to declare the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, a quarantine insect.

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Diptera

Suborder: Brachycera

Family: Tephritidae

Subfamily: Dacinae

Tribe: Ceratitidini

Genus: Ceratitis

SpeciesCeratitis capitata (Wiedemann, 1824)

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Mediterranean Fruit Fly Eggs in an Apple
Mediterranean Fruit Fly Eggs in an Apple

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Morphology

Egg: Ellipsoid, elongated, glossy white in color, 0.9-1.1 mm long and 0.2-0.3 mm in diameter.

Larvae: Long, white or cream-white, headless and without legs, with the posterior part wider than the anterior.

Pupa: Ellipsoid-cylindrical, cream-white to dark brown in color, 4.4-4.5 mm in length and 2-2.5 mm in diameter.

Adult: It is 4-6 mm long, 1.2-2 mm wide and colorful, with strips of yellow, brown and black in the thorax and abdomen. The wings are 4.5 mm long and are transparent with black, brown and brown-yellow stripes.

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Larvae of Ceratitis capitata
Larvae of Ceratitis capitata

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Biology and Ecology

Generations per year: 3-7

Biological cycle: Eggs, larvae, pupae and adult are the four stages that the Medfly passes to complete its life cycle. Its duration depends on conditions, season and temperatures and lasts from 21 to 100 days.

After mating, female using the ovipositor open small holes and insert 1 to 14 eggs per position in the fruit, preferably in breaks or vulnerable areas of the skin.

With the hatching of the eggs, the maggots come out and feed on the fruit pulp. After three instar stages, they are pupate mainly on the ground at a shallow depth.

From there, at an average temperature of 24-26 °C (76-79 °F), the adults  emerges within 6 to 13 days.

Overwintering: As larvae on fruits found on the tree or on the ground, rarely as a pupa or adult on the ground.

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Puparia of Ceratitis capitata
Puparia of Ceratitis capitata

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Symptoms & Damages

General: Apparent signs after oviposition at the holes of infected fruits, around which may be partial tissue decomposition or secondary sepsis as well as honeydews. Fungi and bacteria can enter the attack sites. Secondary pests attack from other insects may also occur in the fruit.

Citrus: In the pericarp of the fruit soft areas are created around the oviposition spots. Larvae destroy the flesh.

Pome Fruits: Veins at the oviposition holes. The attack begins when fruit ripening starts, in the color change phase. Larvae destroy the flesh.

Stone Fruits: Veins at the oviposition holes. If the fruit is juicy, the juices flows from the hole. Larvae destroy the flesh.

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Damage to Lemon of Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Damage to Lemon of Mediterranean Fruit Fly

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Control

Different means – chemical, biological etc. are used to control the Mediterranean Fruit Fly. Regardless of the means though, it is necessary to collect, remove and destroy (bury etc.) all the affected fruits, both those that have fallen on the ground and those that remain in the trees. It is also recommended to clean the soil from the weeds in the affected area.

Alternative control

The application of zeolite powder has given encouraging results. Used in 1% dissolution at coverage spraying. Sprays start at the end of April and are repeated one per month.

Biological control

Insects Fopius ceratitivorus and Psyttalia concolor have been used to control the Medfly in Hawaii and Kenya respectively. Their unleashing was successful, but the cost of mass production and disposal is high.

In contrast, the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana is used in various formulations to control the populations of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, with satisfactory results and reasonable costs.

Biotechnical control

  1. Sterile insect technique (SIT)

The method consists in unleashing sterile adults of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly with the purpose of reducing their reproductive capacity in a given area and thus controlling its population. It is used with satisfactory results.

  1. Mass trapping

The method of mass trapping attempts to monitoring but also, to control the populations of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly using pheromone, trophic and color traps, which are used either alone or in combination. And this method is used with satisfactory results.

Chemical control

  1. Foliar Spot Treatments

For foliar spot sprays, an insecticidal active substance is used together with 2-3% trophic attractant (hydrolyzed protein or other trophic attractant) and the non-fruiting part of the trees and their interior are sprayed.

Sprays start 2 weeks before fruit maturation and are repeated every 5 to 7 days.

  1. Coverage spraying

An insecticidal active substance is used and the entire surface of the trees is sprayed.

Sprays start with fruit maturation and repeat, if possible, every 3 weeks.

Some of the insecticidal active substances used to control the Mediterranean Fruit Fly in both types of spraying are:

  • Acetamiprid (Neonicotinoid)
  • Beta-cyfluthrin (Synthetic Pyrethroid)
  • Deltamethrin (Synthetic Pyrethroid)
  • Lambda-Cyhalothrin (Synthetic Pyrethroid)
  • Malathion (Orphanophosphate)
  • Phosmet (Orphanophosphate)
  • Spinosad (Bio-insecticide)
  • Thiacloprid (Neonicotinoid)
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Sterile Medfly Production, A Tray of Male Medfly Pupae
Sterile Medfly Production, A Tray of Male Medfly Pupae
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Pheromone McPhail Trap
Pheromone McPhail Trap

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Hosts

Nuts

  • Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A.Webb

Almond

Grapes

  • Vitis vinifera cv. Soultanina

Sultana

Pome Fruits

  • Pyrus communis L.

Pear

  • Pyrus pyrifolia (Burm. f.) Nakai

Sandparon

  • Malus pumila Mill.

Paradise apple

  • Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl.

Loquat

  • Cydonia oblonga Mill.

Quince

Citrus

  • Citrus paradisi Macfad

Grapefruit

  • Citrus medica L.

Citron

  • Citrus x clementina

Clementine

  • Citrus japonica L.

Kumquat

  • Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f

Lemon

  • Citrus limetta Risso

Sweet lemon

  • Citrus bergamia L.

Bergamot

  • Citrus x sinensis (L.) Osbeck

Orange

  • Citrus reticulata Blanco

Mandarin

  • Citrus x aurantium L.

Bitter orange

  • Citrus maxima (Burm.) Merr.

Pummelo

Berries and Wild Fruits

  • Rubus fruticosus L.

Bramble blackberry

  • Vaccinium corymbosum L.

Highbush blueberry

  • Rubus idaeus L.

Raspberry

  • Ribes grossularia L.

Gooseberry

Vegetables

  • Cucurbitales

Order: Cucurbitales

  • Capsicum annuum L. 

Sweet pepper

  • Momordica charantia L.

Balsam apple

Stone Fruits

  • Prunus armeniaca L.

Apricot

  • Prunus cerasus L.

Dwarf cherry

  • Prunus domestica L.

Wild plum

  • Prunus avium (L.) L.

Sweet cherry

  • Prunus cocomilia Ten.

Italian plum

  • Prunus persica var. nucipersica

Nectarine

  • Prunus persica (L.) Batsch

Peach

Tropical and Subttropical Fruits

  • Persea americana Mill.

Avocado

  • Actinidia deliciosa (A. Chev.) C. F. Liang & A. R. Ferguson

Kiwifruit

  • Psidium guajava L.

Guava

  • Coffea sp.

Coffee

  • Averrhoa carambola L.

Starfruit

  • Diospyros kaki Thunb.

Japanese persimmon

  • Mangifera indica L.

Mango

  • Musa acuminata Colla

Banana

  • Carica papaya L.

Papaya

  • Ficus carica L.

Fig

  • Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.

Tuna

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Damage to Apple of Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Damage to Apple of Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Medfly Larvaes in Grapefruit
Medfly Larvaes in Grapefruit
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Medfly Larvae in Coffee Fruit
Medfly Larvae in Coffee Fruit - © Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Medfly Pumps Eggs Into Coffee Berry
Medfly Pumps Eggs Into Coffee Berry - © Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Adult of Medfly on Lemon
Adult of Medfly on Lemon - © Mourad Louadfel, Bugwood.org
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Damage to Peach of Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Damage to Peach of Mediterranean Fruit Fly

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - Geographical Distribution

Africa

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique,
Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Saint Helena, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Asia

Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen.

Europe

Albania, Azores, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Corsica, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, FYROM, Madeira, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, South Russia, Sardinia, Sicily, Slovenia, Spain.

South America

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Central America and Caribbean

Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama.

North America

USA (California).

Oceania

Australia (New South Wales, limited populations in Western Australia), Northern Mariana Islands.

Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Oviposition Damage of Medfly to Nectarine
Oviposition Damage of Medfly to Nectarine
Ceratitis capitata Mediterranean Fruit Fly - Female of Medfly Laying Eggs Into A Papaya Fruit
Female of Medfly Laying Eggs Into A Papaya Fruit

Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean Fruit Fly) - References

The References of Ceratitis capitata feature one of the finest voices of the American song: the great Frank Sinatra.

  1. Carey, J.R., Papadopoulos, N.T., Müller, H.G., Katsoyannos, B.I., Kouloussis, N.A., Wang, J.L., K. Wachter., Yu, W., Liedo, P. (2008). Age structure changes and extraordinary lifespan in wild medfly populations. Aging Cell, 7(3): 426-437.
  2. Fernandes-da-Silva, P.G., Zucoloto, F.S. (1993). The influence of host nutritive value on the performance and food selection in Ceratitis capitata (Diptera, Tephritidae).Journal of Insect Physiology, (39),  883-887.
  3. Leftwich, P. T., Koukidou, M., Rempoulakis, P., Gong, H.-F., Zacharopoulou, A., Fu, G., … Alphey, L. (2014). Genetic elimination of field-cage populations of Mediterranean fruit flies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences281(1792), 20141372. http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1372
  4. Liquido, , Shinoda, L. A., Cunningham, R. T.(1991). Host plants of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Diptera: Tephritidae): an annotated world review. Miscellaneous Publications of the Entomological Society of America, (77), 1-52.
  5. Papadopoulos, N. T., Katsoyannos, B. I., Carey, J. R., & Kouloussis, N. A. (2001). Seasonal and annual occurrence of the Mediterranean fruit fly (diptera: tephritidae) in northern Greece. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 94(1), 41-50.
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Frank Sinatra devotes ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ to his beloved (Medfly)

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