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Citrus Pests


Mediterranean fruit fly


Scientific name


Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Other common names



Similar species


other species in the genus Ceratitis



United States: California (being eradicated), Florida (eradicated), Hawaii (eradicated), and Texas.

Worldwide: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, North America, and South America.

Native to Africa.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • 3.5 - 5 mm (0.14 - 0.20 in.) in length.
  • Yellowish with brown accents, especially on abdomen and legs. The thorax is creamy white to yellow with a characteristic pattern of black blotches.
  • Lower corners of the face have white setae. Eyes are reddish-purple. Ocellar bristles are present. The male has a pair of bristles with enlarged spatulate tips next to the inner margins of the eyes.
  • Forewings are broad with black, brown, and brownish-yellow markings including a wide brownish yellow band across the middle of the wing.
  • 4 - 4.3 mm (0.16 - 0.17 in.) in length.
  • Dark reddish-brown.
  • Cylindrical.
  • Three larval instars.
  • Last instar 7 - 9 mm (0.28 - 0.35 in.) in length.
  • White.
  • Cylindrical and elongate with narrowed, recurved anterior end.
  • Anterior mouth hooks.
  • Flattened caudal end.
  • 1 mm (0.04 in.) in length.
  • Slender and curved.
  • Smooth and shiny white.


Citrus hosts

All Citrus species and their hybrids.

Non-citrus hosts

Infest the fruits of many economically important species including:

  • Annona spp.
  • apple, Malus domesticus
  • apricot, Prunus armeniaca
  • avocado, Persea americana
  • banana, Musa spp.
  • carambola, Averrhoa carambola
  • coffee, Coffea spp.
  • fig, Ficus spp.
  • guava, Psidium guajava
  • kumquat, Fortunella japonica
  • loquat, Eriobotrya japonica
  • mango, Mangifera indica
  • orange jasmine or orange jessamine, Murraya paniculata
  • papaya, Carica papaya
  • peach, Prunus spp.
  • pear, Pyrus communis
  • persimmon, Diospyros spp.
  • strawberry, Fragaria spp.
  • Surinam cherry, Eugenia uniflora

Host damage

  • Larvae may also feed on stems and buds of host plants.
  • Larvae burrow into the pulp of developing fruit.
  • Larvae leave fruit through large exit hole.
  • Mature attacked fruits may develop a water soaked appearance.
  • Young fruits become distorted and usually drop.
  • Larval damage provides entry points for bacteria and fungi that cause the fruit to rot.
  • Larvae may also attack young seedlings and succulent tap roots of host plants.



Females deposit 2 - 10 eggs under the skin of fruit that is just beginning to ripen, often in an area where some break in the skin has already occurred. Several females may use the same deposition hole. Eggs hatch in 1.5 to 3 days during warm weather. Larvae burrow into interior of the fruit to feed on the pulp for 3 - 4 weeks. Larvae exit the fruit to pupate in the soil. Adults may live over a year and and lay 800 eggs. Breeding is continuous with several generations per year.



(USDA/NISIC) United States Department Agriculture / National Invasive Species Information Center. 2012. Mediterranean fruit fly. (

Dean, D. 2012. Exotic Fruit Fly Pests in Florida: Past, Present, and Potential. University of Florida. (

Mau, R.F.L. and J.L. Martin Kessing. 1992. Crop Knowledge Master: Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann). University of Hawaii. (

Thomas, M.C., J.B. Heppner, R.E. Woodruff, H.V. Weems, G.J. Steck and T.R. Fasulo. 2010. Featured creatures: Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae). Publication EENY-214. University of Florida. (



Weeks, J.A., A.C. Hodges, and N.C. Leppla


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012