With the recent good news of the oriental fruit fly eradication in Miami-Dade County,1 now is a good time to reflect on why this pest is such a threat to agriculture and the successful efforts to keep it out of Florida.
Though the name “fruit fly” may make you think of those tiny flies often found around fruit and garbage in the home,2 the oriental fruit fly is a very different bug. It is larger than a house fly and has a noticeable yellow and black/brown pattern on its thorax. The female uses a thin, pointed organ called an ovipositor to lay eggs inside of fruit. In agricultural settings, she can lay between 1200 and 1500 eggs per day!3
When the oriental fruit fly lays her eggs in fruit, the fruit is damaged, and established populations can reduce harvests by twenty-five to fifty percent. The oriental fruit fly attacks many crops grown in Florida, making the collaborative efforts of local businesses, regulators, and UF/IFAS Extension to eradicate this pest all the more important.1
- Tom Nordlie, “UF/IFAS officials credit teamwork for victory over invasive Oriental fruit fly; end of quarantine means return to business as usual for Miami-Dade County growers,” UF/IFAS News, 2016, http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/02/ufifas-officials-credit-teamwork-for-victory-over-invasive-oriental-fruit-fly-end-of-quarantine-means-return-to-business-as-usual-for-miami-dade-county-growers/
- P. G. Koehler and J. W. Diclaro II, Nuisance Nonbiting Flies Such as Filth-Breeding Flies, ENY-222, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2013, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig091
- H. V. Weems, J. B. Heppner, J. L. Nation, and T. R. Fasulo, Oriental Fruit Fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae), EENY-083, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in240
Photo credits: Merle Shepard, Gerald R.Carner, and P.A.C Ooi, Bugwood.org, CC BY 3.0 US