What are fruit flies?
Fruit flies are one of the world’s most destructive horticultural pests and pose a risk to most commercial fruit and vegetable crops. Globally, some fruit fly species attack up to 300 species of fruit and above ground vegetables.
Fruit flies are found all around the world:
- the larvae feed within the fruit or vegetable making the commodity unsaleable
- they reproduce rapidly – full development within 2 weeks
- and are prolific – females lay around 500 eggs per batch
There are two main species of fruit flies threatening Australia's $13 billion horticultural industry: the Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) and the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata).
Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) occurs in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and is endemic to Australia. Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) is an introduced pest and is only present in Western Australia, mostly in the south-west of the state.
The maintenance of the east-west distributions of Qfly and Medfly is a natural result of geographic and climatic factors as well as nationally coordinated surveillance and control. Arid and semi-arid climates don’t support the natural dispersal and establishment of both flies across all states and agricultural production areas. Consequently, many of our international trading partners recognise that eastern Australia is free from Medfly and western Australia is free from Qfly.
Behaviour and life cycle
Fruit fly numbers tend to increase, usually in spring, when temperatures are warm and there is continued availability of suitable host plants, such as summerfruit, apples, berries, tomatoes and mangoes. For further detail on the life cycle stages, behavioural characteristics of male and female flies, and an extensive list of horticultural host commodities, refer to preventfruitfly.