Mediterranean fruit fly

Alert

Have you seen Mediterranean fruit fly?

Be on the lookout and report it.

Under Queensland legislation if you suspect the presence of Mediterranean fruit fly, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Early detection and reporting are key elements in controlling Mediterranean fruit fly.

Mediterranean fruit fly is one of the world's most destructive agricultural pests. It can infest over 200–types of fruit and vegetables and is particularly damaging to stone fruit (such as apricots, peaches and nectarines), pome fruit (such as apples and pears), citrus and guava.

Cause

Mediterranean fruit fly is a small fly also known as Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann).

Other names

  • Medfly

Description

Adults

  • About 3–5mm long (slightly smaller than a housefly).
  • Thorax (back) is mottled with shiny and dull black and yellowish-white areas.
  • Abdomen (the rear body section) is yellowish to brown with 2 pale cross bands.
  • Wings are patterned with yellow, brown and black spots and bands.

Larvae

  • Similar to other fruit flies, the maggots are typically white and up to 9mm long.

Pupae

  • Small brown cylinders about 4mm in length.
  • The larvae change into adult flies within the pupa.

Eggs

  • Similar to other fruit fly.
  • White, slender and curved, about 1mm long.

Plant stage and plant parts affected

  • Fruit and vegetable plants and produce.

Plant damage

As with other fruit fly species, females 'sting' the fruit when they lay their eggs inside. Larvae hatch from eggs and tunnel into the fruit and considerable damage can occur inside the flesh before obvious signs can be seen on the outside of the fruit.

Fruit decaying bacteria are also deposited within the fruit during the egg laying process. These bacteria also contribute to fruit damage

May be confused with

Adult Mediterranean fruit fly are quite different looking to Queensland fruit fly.

Distribution

Originated in Africa and has spread throughout the Mediterranean region, southern Europe, the Middle East, South and Central America, and Hawaii. It is now found in most tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

Now established in Western Australia from the south-west to Derby in the north. Occasional outbreaks occur in the Ord River area of northern Western Australia and in South Australia, which have a suitable habitat and widespread planting of favourable hosts such as stone fruit and citrus.

Hosts

Mediterranean fruit fly can infest over 200 types of fruit and vegetables.

A list of Mediterranean fruit fly carriers (hosts) is found in Schedule 6 of the Biosecurity Regulation 2016.

Life cycle

  • Adult female flies lay their eggs just under the skin of fruit and also deposit fruit decaying bacteria.
  • The eggs hatch into maggots that feed on and destroy host fruit.
  • When fully developed, the maggots drop to the ground to pupate in the soil and transform into the adult fly stage.
  • The new adult flies emerge from the ground.
  • After mating, a female fly can lay about 300 eggs during its lifespan.
  • Lifespan is quite variable depending on a range of conditions
  • Depending on a variety of factors, including the climate, the complete life cycle of a Mediterranean fruit fly can be completed in 2–4 weeks.

Impacts

An outbreak could be devastating to fruit and vegetable industries, causing severe disruption to horticultural market access and trade. Production losses and the use of chemical treatments would also have adverse economic impacts on affected growers, horticultural industries and the communities that rely upon them.

Home gardeners would also be affected and suffer fruit and vegetable losses due to Mediterranean fruit fly infestation.

Monitoring and action

If you detect Mediterranean fruit fly or maggots in fruit and vegetables from interstate, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

Mediterranean fruit fly is a prohibited plant pest under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Report suspected Mediterranean fruit fly to Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

If you think you have found Mediterranean fruit fly, you must take all reasonable and practical steps under your control to minimise any associated risks. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).

Mediterranean fruit fly carriers must not enter Queensland unless sourced from a state or part of a state that is certified free from Mediterranean fruit fly. Carriers that do not meet these requirements must meet requirements outlined in the Queensland biosecurity manual (PDF, 1.8MB) and have a biosecurity certificate.

Check for restrictions when moving plant material, soil and related equipment in Queensland.

Your cooperation will help protect Queensland from Mediterranean fruit fly.

If you are unsure about movement restrictions, contact the Customer Service Centre 13 25 23.

Further information