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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Mexican Fruit Fly

Anastrepha ludens

Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Tephritidae

Anastrepha ludens

Photographer:Uknown Affiliation:Pest and Diseases Image Library Source:www.bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY-NC 3.0


Adult Description: Most Anastrepha species are characterized by their yellow to brown body, wing coloration and distinctive wing pattern. The Mexican fruit fly is slightly larger than a house fly. Female Mexican fruit flies have an especially long ovipositor, which is used to deposit eggs.

Host Plant: Any plant or tree that is fruit-bearing such as: Peach, grapefruit, orange, pear, avocado, apple, and mango.

Ecological Threat

Since the Mexican Fruit Fly lays their eggs inside of fruit, the larvae growth and feed within the fruit and destroy it. This is a major issue since the eggs are laid in fruit like apples, peaches, avocados and mango which are very important crops for the United States, Mexico and Central America.


Adult Mexican fruit flies can live up to eleven months in ideal conditions. A single female can lay up to 1500 eggs in her lifetime either singly or in groups up to 18 in one fruit. Females will use their ovipositor to deposit eggs underneath the skin of a fruit that is beginning to show color. In six to twelve days, the eggs hatch and the larvae burrow further into the fruit. At this stage, the larvae take on the color of the fruit that they are in which makes them easy to overlook. Larvae development can take anywhere from 11-35 days. Once mature, the larvae leave the fruit and burrow into the soil below to pupate. Reproduction occurs year-round, with four to six generations occurring. When the adults emerge, they will be able to reproduce in 8-34 days.


There have been 13 recorded plant hosts for the Mexican fruit fly allowing it to invade nearby United States with similar climates and crops found in Mexico. In 2003, live larvae were found in Pinellas County Florida, in manzano peppers that originated from Mexico. However, the discovery of adults in Florida has been surprisingly rare. Mexican fruit flies have been a pest for the Southern counties of Texas that are along Mexico’s border.

Native Origin

Mexico and Central America, as far south as Costa Rica.

Current Location

U.S. Habitat: The Mexican fruit fly has been an especially particular problem for the state of Florida because the fly has a strong preference of laying eggs in grapefruit. However what makes them most dangerous is their universality for plant hosts, the fruit flies can lay their eggs in anything from cashews to peppers to citrus fruits.


U.S. Present: AZ, CA, FL, TX


Egg and larval stages inside the fruit are safe from insecticidal treatments. The adult stage is susceptible to control, usually by short-lived bait comprised of a contact insecticide mixed with protein and carbohydrate. This is applied as fine droplets to host plant foliage where adults feed. Removing all infested or fallen fruits immediately and destroying them can considerably reduce fly population densities. People should not bring any fruit, plants, or vegetables from outside of the US without clearance from agriculture inspectors. The method is different on a large-scale system like an orchard. If a fly is trapped in an orchard, then all fruit from that orchard is quarantined for two weeks. If a second wild fly is found then the quarantine is extended for a year.

In January 2012, the USDA-APHIS announced that the Mexican fruit fly was eradicated from the last county in Texas in which it had been present. Unless introduced again from overseas or Mexico, this means the United States is temporarily free of Mexican fruit flies


Text References

Clark RA, Steck GJ, Weems Jr HW. 1996. Detection, quarantine, and eradication of exotic fruit flies in Florida, pp. 29-54. In D.L. Rosen (editor), Pest Management in the subtropics: Integrated pest management - a Florida perspective. Intercept Ltd. Andover UK.

Dickens J.C., Solis E and W.G. Hart. 1982. Sexual development and mating behavior of the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew). The Southwestern Entomologist 7: 9-15.

Ebeling W. 1959. Subtropical Fruit Pests. University of California, Division of Agricultural Science 436 pp."fruit fly." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2012. Encyclopedia.com. 31 Aug. 2012

Hernandez-Ortiz V. 1992. El genero Anastrepha Schiner en Mexico (Diptera: Tephritidae), Taxonomia, distribucion y sus plantas huespedes. Instituto de Ecologia, Xalapa Mexico. 162 pp.

NAPPO. (January 2012). Anastrepha ludens (Mexican fruit fly) eradicated in the United States. Phytosanitary Alert System. http://www.pestalert.org/oprDetail.cfm?oprID=511 (18 January 2012).

Robacher D, Magan RL. 1993. ARS Program on Anastrepha species to meet APHIS Plant Quarantine requirements. University of Florida seminar.

White I.M. and M.M. Elson-Harris. 1994. Fruit Flies of Economic Significance: Their Identification and Bionomics. CAB International. Oxon, UK. 601 pp.


Internet Sources




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