Mediterranean Fruit Fly

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Tuesday 04 November, 2014 by Uncle Spike

One of the most prolific pests that affects citrus fruit production is the humble Ceratitis capitata, or Mediterranean Fruit Fly. In short, from late summer when the fruit has formed and the acids are becoming sugar right through to when the daytime temps drop below 22 (72F), which means mid December here, this little critter can devastate a whole crop in days if not kept in check. In 2008 we lost 40% of our crop.

This is the background for those interested, taken from Wikipedia…

Ceratitis capitata, the Mediterranean fruit fly, or medfly for short, is a species of fruit fly capable of causing extensive damage to a wide range of fruit crops. It is native to the Mediterranean area, but has spread invasively to many parts of the world, including Australasia and North and South America.

Adult medflies lay their eggs under the skins of fruit, particularly where the skin is already broken. The eggs hatch within three days, and the larvae develop inside the fruit. The adults have a limited ability to disperse, but the global fruit trade can transport infected fruit over thousands of miles.

This a library photo from Wikipedia:

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And here is one I took on a stockroom window this week. Not a great photo, but it’s an actual genuine wee beastie (note the distinctive ‘jet’ formation wings):

DSCF0680_blog

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Anyway, they generally attack on the shoulder of the south-west face of citrus trees (lemon, tangerine, with orange and clementine the most vulnerable trees as they are sweetest). Once the fly has infected the fruit, it will over-ripen in one spot very very quickly (see image below).

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Then once the larvae hatch, the fruit will become mushy as the bugs take their fill. Often this rapid over-ripening causes the fruit to split open as you can see below.

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DSCF0287_blog

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As much as I’m loathed to use pesticides, needs must. There are very lovely more organic sprays available, but they cost more than the fruit is worth! Remember, we can only sell wholesale the fruit for 16 Euro cents per kilo, or 9 US cents per pound, so economics have to take precedent.

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12 thoughts on “Mediterranean Fruit Fly

  1. M.Winter says:

    Can you pick the fruits out and artificially ripen them?

    Like

  2. Ladybuggz says:

    Learn something new everyday Thanks!

    Like

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Here’s hoping the pests stay away! What terrible damage they do. I could hardly believe the photo.

    Like

  4. neihtn2012 says:

    How about covering some of the fruit, or fake plastic sphere, with tangle glue to catch the flies when they land on them?

    Like

    • Uncle Spike says:

      On a commercial scale it’s too big a task (we have 250 trees). But in a similar manner, the treatment is to spray a small section of the tree, say 1 square metre, on the south-west shoulder, with a special insecticide mixed with a sticky synthesised grape molasses which attracts them.

      Liked by 1 person

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