Cookies on Plantwise Knowledge Bank

Like most websites we use cookies. This is to ensure that we give you the best experience possible.

Continuing to use means you agree to our use of cookies. If you would like to, you can learn more about the cookies we use.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank
  • Knowledge Bank home
  • Change location
Plantwise Technical Factsheet

Mexican fruit fly (Anastrepha ludens)

Host plants / species affected
Anacardium occidentale (cashew nut)
Annona cherimola (cherimoya)
Annona liebmanniana (hardshell custard-apple)
Annona muricata (soursop)
Annona reticulata (bullock's heart)
Annona squamosa (sugar apple)
Carica papaya (pawpaw)
Casimiroa edulis (white sapote)
Casimiroa pubescens
Citrus aurantiifolia (lime)
Citrus aurantium (sour orange)
Citrus limetta (sweet lemon tree)
Citrus maxima (pummelo)
Citrus medica (citron)
Citrus reticulata (mandarin)
Citrus reticulata x paradisi (tangelo)
Citrus sinensis (navel orange)
Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit)
Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)
Diospyros kaki (persimmon)
Malus domestica (apple)
Mammea americana (mamey apple)
Mangifera indica (mango)
Passiflora edulis (passionfruit)
Persea americana (avocado)
Prunus persica (peach)
Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava)
Psidium guajava (guava)
Punica granatum (pomegranate)
Pyrus communis (European pear)
Spondias purpurea (red mombin)
Syzygium jambos (rose apple)
Talisia olivaeformis
List of symptoms/signs
Fruit  -  internal feeding
Attacked fruit can show signs of oviposition punctures, but these, or any other symptoms of damage, are often difficult to detect in the early stages of infestation. Much damage may occur inside the fruit before external symptoms are seen, often as networks of tunnels accompanied by rotting. Very sweet fruits may produce a sugary exudate.
Prevention and control

Control can be considerably aided by good cultural practices, for example, by gathering all fallen and infected host fruits and destroying them. Insecticidal protection is possible by using a cover spray or a bait spray. Malathion is the usual choice of insecticide for fruit fly control and this is usually combined with protein hydrolysate to form a bait spray (Roessler, 1989); practical details are given by Bateman (1982) and Silva-Contreras (1978) give an example specific to A. ludens.

Bait sprays work on the principle that both male and female tephritids are strongly attracted to a protein source from which ammonia emanates. Bait sprays have the advantage over cover sprays that they can be applied as a spot treatment so that the flies are attracted to the insecticide and there is minimal impact on natural enemies. Many different attractants have been developed including fermented corn extract (Lee et al., 1997), host-fruit volatiles (Robacker and Heath, 1996), pheromones (Landolt and Heath, 1996), Staphylococcus aureus odour (Robacker and Flath, 1995) and corn hydrolysate (Heath et al., 1994).

Biological Control

Control of A. ludens using Bacillus thuringiensis has been tested in the laboratory (Martinez et al., 1997) and found to cause up to 90% adult mortality.

Biological control has been tried against A. ludens, but introduced parasitoids have had little impact (Wharton, 1989). Sterile insect release has been tested against A. ludens (Gilmore, 1989) and although no major eradication programme has been carried out, sterile flies are used as part of a programme to keep a fly free zone in southern Texas, USA (Mangan, 1996).

Parasitoids of the mediterranean and oriental fruit flies were imported from Hawaii, USA, in 1954-59, but only Biosteres longicaudatus and Aceratoneuromyia indica became established. It was claimed that A. indica accounted for up to 80% parasitism (Clausen, 1978).


Anastrepha spp. are the most serious fruit fly pests in the tropical Americas (Norrbom and Foote, 1989), with the possible exception of the introduced Ceratitis capitata (CABI/EPPO, 1998). A. ludens is mainly important on Citrus spp. and mangoes [Mangifera indica]. It is the most abundant fruit fly in some areas of Guatemala (Eskafi, 1988) and Mexico (Malo et al., 1987).

Related treatment support
External factsheets
USDA-NAL National Invasive Species Information Center Species Profiles, USDA-NAL National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC), 2012, English language
Bayer CropScience Crop Compendium, Bayer CropScience, English language
Zoomed image