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Euaresta aequalis.jpg
Euaresta aequalis
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Section: Schizophora
Subsection: Acalyptratae
Superfamily: Tephritoidea
Family: Tephritidae
Newman, 1834
500 genera, about 5,000 species

The Tephritidae are one of two fly families referred to as fruit flies, the other family being the Drosophilidae. The family Tephritidae does not include the biological model organisms of the genus Drosophila (in the family Drosophilidae), which is often called the "common fruit fly". Nearly 5,000 described species of tephritid fruit fly are categorized in almost 500 genera of the Tephritidae. Description, recategorization, and genetic analyses are constantly changing the taxonomy of this family. To distinguish them from the Drosophilidae, the Tephritidae are sometimes called peacock flies, in reference to their elaborate and colorful markings. The name comes from the Greek τεφρος, tephros, meaning "ash grey". They are found in all the biogeographic realms.



For terms see Morphology of Diptera and Tephritidae glossary

Tephritidae morphology Tephritidae g1.jpg
Tephritidae morphology

Tephritids are small to medium-sized (2.5–10 mm) flies that are often colourful, and usually with pictured wings, the subcostal vein curving forward at a right angle. The head is hemispherical and usually short. The face is vertical or retreating and the frons is broad. Ocelli and cellar bristles are present. The postvertical bristles are parallel to divergent. Two to eight pairs of frontal bristles are seen (at least one but usually several lower pairs curving inwards and at least one of the upper pairs curving backwards). In some species, the frontal bristles are inserted on a raised tubercle. Interfrontal setulae are usually absent or represented by one or two tiny setulae near the lunula. True vibrissae are absent, but several genera have strong bristles near the vibrissal angle. The wings usually have yellow, brown, or black markings or are dark-coloured with lighter markings. In a few species, the wings are clear. The costa has both a humeral and a subcostal break. The apical part of the subcostal is usually indistinct or even transparent and at about a right angle with respect to the basal part. Crossvein BM-Cu is present; the cell cup (posterior cubital cell or anal cell) is closed and nearly always narrowing to an acute angle. It is closed by a geniculated vein (CuA2). The CuA2 vein is rarely straight or convex. The tibiae lack a dorsal preapical bristle. The female has an oviscape.

The larva is amphipneustic (having only the anterior and posterior pairs of spiracle). The body varies from white to yellowish or brown. The posterior end of pale-coloured species is sometimes black. The body tapers at the anterior. The two mandibles sometimes have teeth along the ventral margin. The antennomaxillary lobes at each side of the mandibles have several transverse oral ridges or short laminae directed posteriorly. The anterior spiracles (prothoracic spiracles) end bluntly and are not elongated. Each has at least three openings or up to 50 arranged transversely in one to three groups or irregularly. Each posterior spiracle (anal spiracle) lacks a clearly defined peritreme and each has three spiracular openings (in mature larvae). These are usually more or less horizontal, parallel and usually bear branched spiracular hairs in four tufts. [1] [2]


Ovipositing Urophora quadrifasciata on Centaurea jacea
Chaetostomella cylindrica mating (notice the parting kiss)

The larvae of almost all Tephritidae are phytophagous. Females deposit eggs in living, healthy plant tissue using their telescopic ovipositors. Here, the larvae find their food upon emerging. The larvae develop in leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, fruits, and roots of the host plant, depending on the species. Some species are gall-forming. One exception to the phytophagous lifestyle is Euphranta toxoneura (Loew) whose larvae develop in galls formed by sawflies. The adults sometimes have a very short lifespan. Some live for less than a week. Some species are monophagous (feeding on only one plant species) others are polyphagous (feeding on several, usually related plant species).

The behavioral ecology of tephritid fruit flies is of great interest to biologists. Some fruit flies have extensive mating rituals or territorial displays. Many are brightly colored and visually showy. Some fruit flies show Batesian mimicry, bearing the colors and markings of dangerous arthropods such as wasps or jumping spiders because it helps the fruit flies avoid predation, though the flies lack stingers.

Adult tephritid fruit flies are often found on the host plant and feeding on pollen, nectar, rotting plant debris, or honeydew.

Natural enemies include parasitoid wasps of the genera Diapriidae and Braconidae.

Economic importance

Tephritid fruit flies are of major economic importance in agriculture. Some have negative effects, some positive. Various species of fruit flies cause damage to fruit and other plant crops. The genus Bactrocera is of worldwide notoriety for its destructive impact on agriculture. The olive fruit fly (B. oleae), for example, feeds on only one plant: the wild or commercially cultivated olive, Olea europaea. It has the capacity to ruin 100% of an olive crop by damaging the fruit. Bactrocera dorsalis is another highly invasive pest species that damages tropical fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. Euleia heraclei is a pest of celery and parsnips. The genus Anastrepha includes several important pests, notably A. grandis , A. ludens (Mexican fruit fly), A. obliqua , and A. suspensa . Other pests are Strauzia longipennis , a pest of sunflowers and Rhagoletis mendax , a pest of blueberries. Another notorious agricultural pest is the Mediterranean fruit fly or Medfly, Ceratitis capitata , which is responsible for millions of dollars' worth in expenses by countries for control and eradication efforts, in addition to costs of damage to fruit crops. Similarly, the Queensland fruit fly ( Bactrocera tryoni ) is responsible for more than $28.5 million in damage to Australian fruit crops a year. This species lays eggs in a wide variety of unripe fruit hosts, causing them to rot prior to ripening. [3]

Some fruit flies are used as agents of biological control, thereby reducing the populations of pest species. Several species of the genus Urophora are used as control agents against rangeland-destroying noxious weeds such as starthistles and knapweeds, but their effectiveness is questionable. [4] Urophora sirunaseva produces larvae that pupate within a woody gall within the flower and disrupt seed production. [5] Chaetorellia acrolophi is an effective biocontrol agent against knapweeds Chaetorellia australis and Chaetorellia succinea , deposit eggs into the starthistle seedheads, where their larvae consume the seeds and flower ovaries. [6]

Since economically important tephritid fruit flies exist worldwide, vast networks of researchers, several international symposia, and intensive activities on various subjects extend from ecology to molecular biology (Tephritid Workers Database).

Pest management techniques applied to tephritid include the use of cover sprays with conventional pesticides, however, due to deleterious impact of these pesticides, new, less impactful and more targeted pest control techniques have been used, such as toxic food baits, male annihilation technique using specific male attractant parapheromones in toxic baits or mass trapping, or even sterile insect technique as part of integrated pest management.


Tephritidae is divided into several subfamilies: [7]

The genera Oxyphora, Pseudorellia , and Stylia comprise 32 species, and are not included in any subfamily ( incertae sedis ).


Species lists

Related Research Articles

Drosophilidae Family of flies

The Drosophilidae are a diverse, cosmopolitan family of flies, which includes fruit flies. Another unrelated family of flies, Tephritidae, also includes species known as "small fruit flies". The best known species of the Drosophilidae is Drosophila melanogaster, within the genus Drosophila, and this species is used extensively for studies concerning genetics, development, physiology, ecology and behaviour. This fruit fly is mostly composed of post-mitotic cells, has a very short lifespan, and shows gradual aging. As in other species, temperature influences the life history of the animal. Several genes have been identified that can be manipulated to extend the lifespan of these insects. Additionally, Drosophila subobscura, also within the genus Drosophila, has been reputed as a model organism for evolutionary-biological studies.

Phoridae Family of flies

The Phoridae are a family of small, hump-backed flies resembling fruit flies. Phorid flies can often be identified by their escape habit of running rapidly across a surface rather than taking to the wing. This behaviour is a source of one of their alternate names, scuttle fly. Another vernacular name, coffin fly, refers to Conicera tibialis. About 4,000 species are known in 230 genera. The most well-known species is cosmopolitan Megaselia scalaris. At 0.4 mm in length, the world's smallest fly is the phorid Euryplatea nanaknihali.

Ephydridae Family of flies

Ephydridae is a family of insects in the order Diptera.

<i>Centaurea solstitialis</i> Species of flowering plant

Centaurea solstitialis, the yellow star-thistle, is a member of the family Asteraceae, native to the Mediterranean Basin region. The plant is also known as golden starthistle, yellow cockspur and St. Barnaby's thistle The plant is a thorny winter annual species in the knapweed genus.

Agromyzidae Family of flies

The Agromyzidae are a family commonly referred to as the leaf-miner flies, for the feeding habits of their larvae, most of which are leaf miners on various plants.

Lonchaeidae Family of flies

The Lonchaeidae are a family of acalyptrate flies commonly known as lance flies. About 500 described species are placed into 9 genera. These are generally small but robustly built flies with blue-black or metallic bodies. They are found, mainly in wooded areas, throughout the world with the exception of polar regions and New Zealand.

<i>Bactrocera dorsalis</i> Species of insect

Bactrocera dorsalis, previously known as Dacus dorsalis and commonly referred to as the oriental fruit fly, is a species of tephritid fruit fly that is endemic to Southeast Asia. It is one of the major pest species in the genus Bactrocera with a broad host range of cultivated and wild fruits. Male B. dorsalis respond strongly to methyl eugenol, which is used to monitor and estimate populations, as well as to annihilate males as a form of pest control. They are also important pollinators and visitors of wild orchids, Bulbophyllum cheiri and Bulbophyllum vinaceum in Southeast Asia, which lure the flies using methyl eugenol.

Tephritid Workers Database

The Tephritid Workers Database is a web-based database for sharing information on tephritid fruit flies. Because these species are one of the most economically important group of insect species that threaten fruit and vegetable production and trade worldwide, a tremendous amount of information is made available each year: new technologies developed, new information on their biology and ecology; new control methods made available, new species identified, new outbreaks recorded and new operational control programmes launched. The TWD allows workers to keep up-to-date on the most recent developments and provides an easily accessible and always available resource.

<i>Bactrocera cucurbitae</i>

Bactrocera cucurbitae, the melon fly, is a fruit fly of the family Tephritidae. It is a serious agricultural pest, particularly in Hawaii.

<i>Anastrepha</i> Genus of flies

Anastrepha is the most diverse genus in the American tropics and subtropics. Currently, it comprises more than 300 described species, including nine major pest species, such as the Mexican fruit fly, the South American fruit fly, the West Indian fruit fly, the sapote fruit fly, the Caribbean fruit fly, the American guava fruit fly, and the pumpkin fruit fly, as well as the papaya fruit fly. As some of their names suggest, these pest species are one of the most numerous and damaging groups of insects in their native range, plaguing commercial fruits such as citrus, mango, guava, and papaya.

<i>Urophora</i> Genus of flies

Urophora is a genus of tephritid or fruit flies in the family Tephritidae.

<i>Urophora jaceana</i> Species of fly

Urophora jaceana is a species of tephritid or fruit flies in the genus Urophora of the family Tephritidae. The host plant for the larvae is usually black knapweed or Centaurea debeauxii.

Chaetorellia succinea is a species of tephritid fruit fly that was accidentally released in 1991 into the United States and had since become one of the major biological pest controls against the noxious weed yellow starthistle.

<i>Urophora stylata</i> Species of fly

Urophora stylata is a species of tephritid or fruit flies in the genus Urophora of the family Tephritidae. The host plant for the larvae is usually a thistle of genus Cirsium or Carduus.

<i>Urophora quadrifasciata</i> Species of fly

Urophora quadrifasciata is a species of tephritid or fruit flies in the genus Urophora of the family Tephritidae. The host plant for the larvae is usually a knapweed, and because of this, it is used to control Centaurea stoebe.

<i>Bactrocera invadens</i> Species of fly

Bactrocera (Bactrocera) invadens is the name given to tephritid fruit flies that were introduced to East Africa from Sri Lanka and subsequently invaded practically the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, hence the species name "invadens". It was first shown to be the same biological species as B. dorsalis s.s. by possessing identical sex pheromonal components after consumption of methyl eugenol, and also based on CO1 and rDNA sequences. Subsequently, it was agreed that B. invadens, B. papayae and B. philippinensis be synonymized as B. dorsalis. To counteract its detrimental effects to the fruit business, the industry resorts to cold treatment in order to get rid of the larvae.

Chloropidae Family of insects

The Chloropidae are a family of flies commonly known as frit flies or grass flies. About 2000 described species are in over 160 genera distributed worldwide. These are usually very small flies, yellow or black and appearing shiny due to the virtual absence of any hairs. The majority of the larvae are phytophagous, mainly on grasses, and can be major pests of cereals. However, parasitic and predatory species are known. A few species are kleptoparasites. Some species in the genera Hippelates and Siphunculina are called eye gnats or eye flies for their habit of being attracted to eyes. They feed on lachrymal secretions and other body fluids of various animals, including humans, and are of medical significance.

<i>Myopites stylatus</i> Species of fly

Myopites stylatus is a species of tephritid or fruit flies in the family Tephritidae.

<i>Bactrocera carambolae</i> Species of fly

Bactrocera carambolae, also known as the carambola fruit fly, is a fruit fly species in the family Tephritidae, and is native to Asia. This species was discovered by Drew and Hancock in 1994.

Urophora neuenschwanderi is a species of tephritid or fruit flies in the genus Urophora of the family Tephritidae.


  1. K. G. V. Smith, 1989 An introduction to the immature stages of British Flies. Diptera Larvae, with notes on eggs, puparia and pupae. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects Vol 10 Part 14. pdf Archived 2014-02-09 at the Wayback Machine download manual (two parts Main text and figures index)
  2. Phillips, V.T., 1946. The biology and identification of trypetid larvae (Diptera: Trypetidae). Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 12: 1-161.
  3. Clarke, A.R.; Powell, K.S.; Weldon, C.W.; Taylor, P.W. (2010-11-02). "The ecology of Bactrocera tryoni (Diptera: Tephritidae): what do we know to assist pest management?" (PDF). Annals of Applied Biology. 158 (1): 26–54. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.2010.00448.x. hdl: 10019.1/122744 . ISSN   0003-4746.
  4. Dean E. Pearson & Ragan M. Callaway (2008). "Weed-biocontrol insects reduce native-plant recruitment through second-order apparent competition" (PDF). Ecological Applications . 18 (6): 1489–1500. doi:10.1890/07-1789.1. PMID   18767624.
  5. Sobhian, R. 1993. Life history and host specificity of Urophora sirunaseva (Herng)(Dipt., Tephritidae), an agent for biological control of yellow starthistle, with remarks on the host plant. J. Appl. Entomol. 116: 381-390.
  6. Turner, C.E., G.L. Piper and E.M. Coombs. 1996. Chaetorellia australis (Diptera: Tephritidae) for biological control of yellow starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis (Compositae), in the western USA: establishment and seed destruction. Bull. Entomol. Res. 86: 1 77-182.
  7. Allen L. Norrbom (April 30, 2004). "Fruit Fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) Phylogeny". The Diptera Site. Agricultural Research Service. Archived from the original on July 9, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.

Further reading