The invasive pest spotlight focuses on emerging or potential invasive pests in California. In this issue we are covering the Oriental fruit fly.
Oriental Fruit Fly Facts
The Oriental fruit fly (OFF) is an invasive pest that attacks over 230 crops including citrus and other fruits, nuts, vegetables, and berries. The short life cycle of the OFF allows rapid development of serious outbreaks, which can cause severe economic losses. Heavy infestations can cause complete losses of crops. Fruit that has been attacked may be unfit to eat as larvae tunnel through the flesh as they feed. Fungi and bacteria enter, leaving the interior of the fruit a rotten mass. Infested fruit does not always look damaged from the outside but may take on a brown, mottled appearance as the maggots feed.
The adult OFF is slightly larger than a housefly, around 1/3 inch (8mm) in length. The body color is often bright yellow with a dark "T" shaped marking on the abdomen. The wings are clear. The female has a pointed slender ovipositor to deposit eggs under the skin of host fruit. A single female can lay more than 1,000 eggs in her lifetime. The fly can infest new areas very quickly because it is a strong flyer and can travel 30 miles in search of food and sites to lay eggs.
What Can You Do?
The Oriental fruit fly is a major pest of agriculture in Hawaii and efforts to prevent its establishment into California are ongoing. Areas where OFF have been detected are under quarantine. If you are in a quarantine area, you can help by controlling the movement of your homegrown fruit off your property and by disposing of infected fruit in the garbage, not in green waste or compost. If you suspect you've found OFF, notify your County Agricultural Commissioner's office or call the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.