The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) is widespread in Africa, the Mediterranean basin and South America. Ceratitis capitata is a highly polyphagous species whose larvae develop in a very wide range of unrelated fruits, in fact, practically all the tree fruit crops. It has also been recorded from wild hosts belonging to a large number of families.
Life cycle and appearance of Mediterranean fly
The adult Mediterranean fruit fly is about 4-5 mm long. It has bright emerald green eyes suffused with reddish brown. The thorax is black suffused with greyish yellow and the abdomen mainly yellowish orange with 2 silvery crossbands. The wings are clear with black veins and marked with black spots and brownish yellow patches. The eggs are about 1 mm long and narrowly fusiform. Larvae are up to 8 mm long, translucent white, becoming a dirty cream-white on completion of feeding. They have prominent black mouth hooks. The puparium is 4-5 mm long, yellowish brown to reddish brown and barrel-shaped.
The eggs are laid below the skin of the host fruit. After hatching, the larvae feed on the flesh of the fruit. As each fly lays several eggs in a fruit and different flies may lay eggs in the same fruit, the number of larvae per fruit can be very high. After about 6-11 days, they are fully developed and leave the fruit to pupate in the soil.
C. capitata does not survive sub-zero winter temperatures.It is well named as ‘Mediterranean’, after the area in which it survives in Europe and North Africa (virtually coinciding with the area where citrus is grown)
The oviposition hole is often surrounded by a sunken and discoloured area. These punctures are often sufficient in high quality produce to make fruit unmarketable. Damage caused by larval feeding on the flesh makes the fruit useless. Damaged fruits are often invaded by pathogenic fungi causing rotting.