The Mediterranean fruit fly, commonly known as the Medfly, is considered to be one of the most destructive species of fruit flies in the world. It originated in Africa, and soon spread to throughout the southern Europe, Mediterranean, Middle East, South and Central America, Australia, and Hawaii. When it has been found in the US, particularly Florida and California, immediate and extensive efforts were made before a population could become established.
Mediterranean fruit flies have the largest host range of any other species of fruit fly which is why it is considered the most important pest affecting agriculture in the world. Over 300 species of fruit are hosts for the Mediterranean fruit fly. Plum, grape, orange, lemon, lime, pear, peach, mango, tomato, apple, peppers, melon, avocado, walnut, grapefruit, lychee, papaya, and pomegranate are all examples of crops that have been affected.
Adults are 3/16 of an inch long and smaller then a typical house fly. It is yellowish in color with a brown tint. The wings are clear with grey flecks and light brown bands and the eyes are reddish in color. Adults can live up to two months, but will die within three days without food. Eggs are white in color and have been compared in appearance to small grains of rice.
Female Mediterranean fruit flies lay their between 1-10 eggs under the skin of a piece of fruit that is just beginning to ripen. Within 2-4 days in warmer temperatures the larvae emerge. They immediately begin to form tunnels to feed on the fruit as the pass the three larvae development stages. The type of fruit and weather play a role in determining how fast larvae maturation occurs.
After full development of the larvae occurs, they drop to the soil beneath the plant and pupate. Adults will emerge after 6-11 days. Females are typically able to mate 6-8 days after emerging from the pupa.
Fruit that has been infected with the larvae of the Mediterranean fruit fly are not fit for human consumption. Entire cultures have had to alter their agriculture practices by harvesting fruit before it is ripe. People should not bring plants, fruits, or vegetables into the US without an agriculture inspection and should follow all quarantine laws.