Malaysian Fruit Fly Pest Profile

Malaysian Fruit Fly Pest Profile INFORMATION ONLY, pest, invasive species

Malaysian Fruit Fly Profile
  • Common Name:
    Malaysian Fruit Fly
  • Scientific Name:
    Bactrocera latifrons (Hendel)
  • Order and Family:
    Diptera, Tephritidae

The adult Malaysian fruit fly is somewhat larger than a housefly, about 8 mm in length. The adult has two black spots on the face. The thorax is brown to black on top with paired yellow stripes at the wing bases, while the abdomen is yellow-orange without any dark markings. The clear wings have a dark stripe along the front edge that is swollen at the wing tip and one directed toward the back edge of the wing at the base. The female has a pointed slender ovipositor to deposit eggs under the skin of host vegetables and fruit. Eggs are minute and banana-shaped, and are laid in batches. The maggots (larvae) are creamy white, legless, and may attain a length of 10 mm inside host fruit. When mature, the maggots leave the host fruit and burrow into the ground, where they form rice-grain shaped brown puparia, from which the adults will eventually emerge.

Malaysian fruit fly is native to Asia, and was first found in the U.S. in Hawaii during 1983, and by 1994 had spread throughout the state. There, it has emerged as a pest of solanaceous and cucurbitaceous fruit. A number of crops in California are threatened by the introduction of this pest including cucumber, eggplant, guava, peppers, pomegranate, tomato, and watermelon. The combined 2013 gross values of these commodities was over $2 billion. The permanent establishment and spread of this pest would result in increased production and postharvest costs to safeguard commercial fruit from infestation, increased pesticide applications on both production agriculture and residential properties to mitigate damage, and lost economic activity and jobs from trade restrictions. Malaysian fruit fly has been detected only twice in California, with one fly in 1998 and two in 2016.

Malaysian fruit fly is widespread through much of the mainland of Southern Asia and neighboring islands, including Sri Lanka and Taiwan. It has spread to Kenya, Tanzania, and the Hawaiian islands.

Females lay eggs under the skin of host fruits, and females may lay more than 500 eggs in their lifetime. The time taken for development depends on the ambient temperature. Maggots tunnel through the fruit feeding on the pulp, shed their skins twice, and emerge through exit holes in approximately 10 days under warm temperatures. The larvae drop from the fruit and burrow into the soil to pupate. After about 10 days adults emerge from the puparia. The newly emerged adult females need 5 to 14 days to mature sexually prior to egg laying. Breeding is continuous, with several annual generations possible. Adults live 70 days on average and feed on honeydew, decaying fruit, plant nectar, bird dung, and other substances. The adult is a strong flyer, and this ability allows the fly to infest new areas very quickly.

More than 50 fruits and vegetables have been attacked, primarily in the families Solanaceae and Cucurbitaceae (see list below). Fruit that has been attacked will be unfit to eat as the maggots tunnel through the flesh as they feed. Decay organisms enter, leaving the interior of the fruit a rotten mass.

Host List:

Scientific Name Common Name
Baccaurea motleyana (Mull. Arg.) Mull. Arg. Rambai
Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn. Ash gourd
Capsicum annuum L. Chili Pepper
Capsicum annuum L. var annuum Bell Pepper
Capsicum baccatum Barpeppar
Capsicum chinense Jacq. Bonnet Pepper
Capsicum frutescens L. Bird Pepper
Capsicum spp. Pepper
Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai Watermelon
Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt Ivy gourd
Coffea arabica L. Arabian coffee
Cucumis dipsaceus Ehrenb. Ex Spach
Cucumis melo L. subsp agrestis (Naudin) Pangalo
var conomon (Thunb.) Makino
Hedgehog cucumber
Oriental pickling melon
Cucumis sativus L. Cucumber
Diplocyclos palmatus (L.) C. Jeffrey Lollipop-climber
Gmelina philippensis Cham.
Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl. Bottle gourd
Lagerstroemia indica L. Crape myrtle
Linociera parkinsoni
Linociera xanthocarpum
Lycianthes biflora (Lour.) Bitter Da chi hong si xian
Momordica trifoliolata Hook.f.
Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack Chinese boxwood
Passiflora foetida L. Wild passionfruit
Physalis peruviana L. Cape-gooseberry
Psidium guajava L. Guava
Punica granatum L. Pomegranate
Sapindus rarak DC.
Solanum aculeatissimum Jacq. Dutch eggplant
Solanum aethiopicum L. Chinese scarlet eggplant
Solanum americanum Mill. American nightshade
Solanum anguivi Lam.
Solanum donianum Walp.
Solanum granulosoleprosum Dunal
Solanum incanum L. Bitter apple
Solanum lanceifolium Jacq.
Solanum lasiocarpum Dunal Indian nightshade
Solanum linnaeanum Hepper & P.-M.L. Jaeger apple-of-Sodom
Solanum lycopersicum L. var. cerasiforme (Alef.) Fosberg Cherry tomato
Solanum lycopersicum L. var. lycopersicum Tomato
Solanum macrocarpon L. African eggplant
Solanum mammosum L. Macawbush
Solanum melongena L. Eggplant
Solanum nigrescens M. Martens & Galeotti Divine nightshade
Solanum nigrum L. Black nightshade
Solanum pimpinellifolium L. Currant tomato
Solanum pseudocapsicum L. Jerusalem-cherry
Solanum scabrum Mill. Garden huckleberry
Solanum spp.
Solanum sisymbriifolium Lam. Sticky nightshade
Solanum stramoniifolium Jacq.
Solanum torvum Sw. Devil's fig
Solanum trilobatum L. Purple-fruited pea eggplant
Solanum viarum Dunal Tropical soda apple
Solanum violaceum Ortega Ci tian qie
Terminalia catappa L. Indian almond
Ziziphus jujuba Mill. Common jujube
Ziziphus nummularia (Burm.f.) Wight & Arn.