Mediterranean Fruit Fly
The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), or Medfly, is a significant horticultural pest which is established in parts of Western Australia.
Mediterranean fruit fly attacks a wide range of host plants, decreasing production and making fruit inedible. This can have severe consequences for local and international trade.
Adult Mediterranean fruit fly are 3-5 millimetres long and are yellowish in colour, with black markings on the body. They also have distinctive brown bands on the wings.
There are four stages in the life cycle of Mediterranean fruit fly: egg, maggot (larva), pupa and adult fly.
- Egg – Eggs, which are laid in host fruit, are white in colour and banana-shaped. They are rarely identified by gardeners.
- Maggot (larva) - Soon after the eggs have been laid by the female, a small maggot emerges from each egg. Maggots have cutting jaws which help to tear the fruit into pieces small enough to swallow. Maggots tend to eat towards the centre of fruit. This promotes rotting of the fruit, although it may appear in good condition from the outside. When the maggot has completed growing, it chews its way out of the fruit - which by then has usually fallen to the ground - and burrows into the soil.
- Pupa - In the soil, the maggot becomes inactive and changes into an oval, brown, hard pupa.
- Adult fly – The adult Medfly hatches and emerges from the ground. After feeding and mating, females search for suitable ripe fruit to deposit their eggs. The punctures ('stings') are very small and usually can only be recognised by an experienced person. Adult Mediterranean fruit flies can live for 2-3 months.
Surveillance and prevention in Victoria
Monitoring and control
Adult Mediterranean fruit fly activity can be monitored by using traps containing synthetic male attractants. The most commonly used attractant is Capilure, which only attracts male flies. Traps are usually placed in the shade of the canopy of host trees, and the contents checked regularly throughout the year.
If Medfly is detected, an outbreak may be declared and control and eradication
activities undertaken. Control measures include preventing the movement of
fruit from the area, removing fruit from plants and destroying wild or
neglected fruit trees.
Eradication measures include cover sprays and bait sprays. Cover sprays are generally systemic insecticides that will also kill maggots present in fruit. Bait sprays, which are a mixture of protein, water and an insecticide, can be spot sprayed onto various sites in an orchard. If the outbreak is in an urban area, every property within a specified zone may be sprayed with bait to control the population of adult flies.
Quarantine measures such as inspection and treatment of fruit and vegetables assist in preventing the entry of Mediterranean fruit fly into Victoria.
High risk materials
The host list for the Mediterranean fruit fly highlights that it affects a wide range of fruit and fruiting vegetables.
What to do if you suspect you may have Mediterranean fruit fly on your property
If you think that you have found Mediterranean fruit fly, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.