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Melon fruit fly

Date:2017-08-16 16:28

Melon fruit fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett), Family Tephritidae


Vegetables and fruits in the family Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae, including bitter melon, cucumber, loofah, zucchini, melon, watermelon, pumpkin, capsicum, papaya, fig, and tomato.



Melon fruit fly is native to India and now it is widely distributed from south-east Asia. In China, melon fruit fly is mainly active in southern China including Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan provinces.


Female flies lay eggs into fruits and larvae feed on flesh. The damaged fruits turn yellow from the damaged region, and then become rotten and dropping eventually. Sometimes even fruits do not turn rotten, gum exudes from the hole. Fruits become deformed and hollow. The fruit skin is hardened and the taste is bitter. The quantity and quality are both reduced by melon fruit fly. In field study results, melon fruit flies cause major damage on bitter melon and cucumber. Both have soft, thin skin which makes them particularly susceptible. Young loofah fruit is still attractive to female flies, but the mature loofah is not attractive anymore.


Life cycle

Melon fruit fly has 5-8 generations per year. Larvae pupate from April. Population decreases from September because of the fruit harvest. August is the month when they are most active and generation overlap is common. Melon fruit fly needs 40-50 days on one generation. 25-30℃ is the optimum temperature for development. Temperatures between 10-35℃ iare suitable for pupae to develop. Only eggs and larva can develop at 35℃. Pupae cannot grow at this temperature. Melon fruit flies overwinter as mature larvae or pupae in the soil. Adults emerge when the temperature in spring is suitable. Adults need to feed for 7-10 days before mating. Eggs are laid in fruits and larvae feed in fruits. Then mature larvae leave the fruit and pupate in the soil.


Adult: Body length is 7-9mm and body width is 3-4mm. Body color is yellow-brownish to red-brownish. Wing tip has a round spot. Thorax has three parallel yellow lines. Females have ovipositor is 1-2mm in length.

Egg: Creamy white and slender in the length of 0.8-1.3mm. Females usually lay 7-10 eggs in one hole, but sometimes only a single egg is laid. Eggs are laid usually 3mm below the surface.

Larva: Newly hatched larvae are creamy white with the length of 1.1-1.2mm long. The head end is slender and the tail end is bigger than the head end. Larvae usually aggregate and feed together.

Pupa: Yellow-brownish and cylindrical with 5mm in length. Pupae are usually in the depth of 2-8cm in the soil.

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