Natal fruit fly, Ceratitis rosa

Ceratitis rosa or natal fruit fly is a polyphagous African species.

It has been introduced to the Mascarene Islands: Mauritius and Réunion. It is considered to be a major pest of a number of commercial fruits, including fruits that are grown in subtropical or more temperate environments. It has similar environmental requirements to Ceratitis capitata except that it can withstand less dry conditions, but it is probably more suited to wetter and/or colder conditions. It should be considered as a potential invasive species in other parts of Africa, outside its current range, and in other parts of the world. The most likely pathway of dispersal and introduction is as larvae in infested fruits with commercial shipments or in the luggage of travellers. Ceratitis rosa is of quarantine significance for EPPO, JUNAC and OIRSA. (Source: CABI)

Biology

Ceratitis rosa, like other Ceratitis spp., has banded wings and a swollen scutellum which is marked yellow and black. The pattern of grey flecks in the basal wing cells distinguishes Ceratitis spp. from most other genera of tephritids. The Natal fruit fly overwinters in the adult stage and is able to withstand temperatures as low as 20°F, provided the warming period comes slowly. Food, water, and shelter are more important overwintering factors than temperature. Overwintering flies feed on honeydew and require an abundant water supply. This species is not attracted to traps during the winter months. Eggs are laid 10 to 20 at a time just below the fruit surface. Eggs may be laid in unblemished fruit and in ripe or unripe fruit. Eggs usually hatch within four days after oviposition, but may require longer than four days during cold weather. The three larval stages and a prepupal stage occupy a period of about 12 days. Pupation takes place in the soil, and the pupal stage lasts 10 to 20 days. Females usually begin oviposition in about seven days. Adults may live for several months.

Nature of Damage

This fruit fly infests many orchard fruits and wild fruits, including:

  • apple, Malus sylvestris
  • apricot, Prunus armeniaca
  • avocado, Persea americana
  • blackberry, Rubus spp.
  • cactus, Opuntia spp.
  • citrus, Citrus spp.
  • coffee, Coffea arabica
  • custard apple, Annona reticulata
  • fig, Ficus carica
  • forest peach, Rawsonia lucida, etc.

Peaches and guavas are particularly favored. Nut crops appear to be immune from attack.

Monitoring

Males are attracted to trimedlure, meaning that the best monitoring device for this species of fruit fly is Russell IPM’s Ceranock trap baited with Trimedilure. Another suitable trap for monitoring can be the Tephridae trap.

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