Bactrocera cucurbitae(Coquillett)

Potentially serious fruit fly threat to the southern US and Mexico

Click here for the enlargement of
this photo or for additional images

Name: Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett)
Taxonomic Position:
Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae
Common Names: Melon Fly, Melon Fruit Fly

The melon fly is the 2nd most abundant fruit fly species and one of the most devastating pests in Hawaii. Heavy infestations can lead to the total loss of a crop. Introductions of this pest from Hawaii into the continental US have occurred several times in the past without resulting in permanent establishment. If the melon fly was to become established on the Northamerican continent, the economic consequences could be very significant for the southern US and Mexico.

Issues of Concern: The melon fly has shown a high degree of invasiveness by spreading over large parts of the world. It is well established in Hawaii, and interceptions at US ports of entry are not unusual. It attacks a wide range of hosts, including numerous important crop plants. The climate in many parts of the southern US and Mexico would be conducive to its development. Melon flies may live for multiple years and produce up to 10 generations of offspring per year.

Pathways: May be introduced on many different plants or parts thereof. Eggs and larvae may be found inside fruits, flowers, stems or roots of host plants.

Hosts: Hosts include, but are not limited to, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, gourd, cowpea, string bean, tomato, cucumber, chili peppers, eggplant, orange, papaya, guava, mango, peach, fig, starfruit, passion-flower and balsam apple. On the whole, over 125 species of plants have been recorded as hosts.

The melon fly is native to India, but has spread from there to numerous other countries. It is now established in most of Southeast Asia, including Pakistan, Nepal, China, New Guinea, Philippines, and Taiwan. Furthermore, it is found in Africa in Egypt, Kenya and Tanzania. It is also well established in Hawaii and on the Mariana Islands.

Quarantines: The US requires quarantine disinfestation treatments for melon fly host plants from many different countries. Japan also has quarantine requirements for this pest.

Detection Strategies
Check for larvae (small, white maggots) in fruits, stems and other plant tissues. Adults may be caught in McPhail traps baited with a sugar-yeast solution. Females may be observed ovipositing in the early mornings or late afternoons.

The melon fly was previously known under the following names:
Chaetodacus cucurbitae (Coquillett),
Dacus cucurbitae Coquillett,
Strumeta cucurbitae (Coquillett) ,
Zeugodacus cucurbitae (Coquillett)

Source: University of Florida

Heppner, J.B. 1988. Larvae of fruit flies IV. Dacus dorsalis (Oriental fruit fly) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Florida Dept. Agric. Cons. Serv., Ent. Circ. 303: 1-2.

USDA, Survey and Detection Operations, Plant Pest Control Division, Agr. Research Service. USDA, Plant Pest Control Division, Agr. Research Service. Anonymous. 1963. The melon fly. Pamphlet 581. 4 p.

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

Useful Links:
Featured Creatures (University of Florida)
E.A. Back.1914.Life History of the Melon Fly
Melon Fly Biology and Control

Warning: The information in this archived item was not confirmed with the appropriate National Plant Protection Organization and is provided solely for informational purposes. Please use this information with caution.