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common name: Natal fruit fly
scientific name: Ceratitis rosa Karsch (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae)

Introduction - Synonymy - Distribution - Description - Life History and Habits - Hosts - Attractants - Selected References

Introduction (Back to Top)

The Natal fruit fly, Ceratitis rosa Karsch, which is sometimes call the Natal fly, was described in 1887 from specimens collected at Delagoa Bay, Mozambique. By 1900 it was recognized as a pest of orchard fruits throughout much of KwaZulu Natal Province, Republic of South Africa, and is considered to be the most common fruit fly of economic importance in Zimbabwe.

Figure 1. Adult female. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.

Following its accidental introduction into the island of Mauritius about 1953, this fly became firmly established and largely replaced the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), as a pest of fruits. In South Africa the Natal fruit fly ranks second in importance only to the Mediterranean fruit fly, and at times it is an even more serious pest. For example, 50 to 100 percent of plums were reportedly infested in a South African locality one year despite the application of control measures.

Although, the Natal fruit fly was intercepted in the United States in a shipment of peaches arriving from South Africa, but it never has been captured as an escapee in the United States. It continues to constitute a potential threat to Florida agriculture. If it were accidentally introduced into Florida and allowed to gain a foothold, the Natal fruit fly could prove to be fully as serious a menace as the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Synonymy (Back to Top)

Pterandrus rosa (Karsch)
Pterandrus flavotibialis Hering

Distribution (Back to Top)

Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of South Africa (KwaZulu Natal), Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zimbabwe and the islands of Mauritius and Reunion.

Description (Back to Top)

This fruit fly closely resembles the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in appearance. It averages slightly larger and has the characteristic picture wings and dark black spots on the thorax. The arista of the antenna is plumose, while that of the Medfly bears only short pubescence. The frons of the male lacks the pair of conspicuous spatulate setae which is found on the male Medfly. The mesothoracic tibiae of the males are clothed with dorsal and ventral brushes of elongated bluish-black scales, lacking in the Medfly. The ovipositor sheath of the female is shorter than the width at its base. Length of the fly is 4 to 5 mm.

The Natal fruit fly is recognized by its characteristic pattern of brown wing bands, the three black areas in the apical half of the scutellum, and by the male having feathering on the mid tibia, but no feathering on the mid femur (White and Elson-Harris 1994).

Life History and Habits (Back to Top)

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. Entomologists estimate that under central Florida conditions there would be approximately ten generations per year.

Hosts (Back to Top)

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

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

Attractants (Back to Top)

Males are attracted to trimedlure and terpinyl acetate, but not methly eugenol (White and Elson-Harris 1994).

Selected References (Back to Top)