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common name: Cherry fruit fly

scientific name: Rhagoletis cingulata (Loew) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae)





Life history and habits



Larvae (photo 25,4 Kb) of two closely related species of fruit flies in central and eastern North America -- Rhagoletis cingulata , commonly called the cherry fruit fly or cherry maggot, and Rhagoletis fausta, the black cherry fruit fly -- attack cherry and cause wormy fruits. Only R. cingulata occurs in Florida, where it attacks wild cherries and is of little economic importance. These two species closely resemble a third pest species, the apple maggot, Rhagoletis pomonella, the adults (photo 54,1 Kb) of all three have banded wings. R. cingulata breeds in all varieties of cherries including the sweet cherry.

A weevil, the plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar is the most serious pest of cherries and plums, and its larvae (photo 25,4 Kb) may be mistaken for those of the fruit flies. However, plum curculio larvae (photo 25,4 Kb) have heavy chewing mandibles and a bluntly rounded head which readily distinguish them from fruit fly larvae (photo 25,4 KB) which have sharp-pointed, downward-curved mouth hooks and a sharply pointed head.

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Trypeta cingulata.

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These flies are a little smaller than a housefly, 4 to 5 mm long, and generally black with yellow margins on the thorax. The scutellum is white, the tibiae and tarsi are yellowish, and there are transverse and oblique blackish markings on the wings. The cherry fruit fly has four white cross bands on the abdomen, which are not found on the black cherry fruit fly; the blackish bands on the wings of the latter are more intense. The maggots found in the fruit are yellowish white, up to 6,5 cm long and -- typical of fly larvae -- is pointed at the head end.

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Adults (photo 54.1 Kb) emerge from the ground during the spring at the time the cherries are about half grown and feed for a few days on moisture and other materials on the surface of the leaves and fruit before laying eggs. This is the vulnerable time for control. Each female may deposit 300 to 400 eggs. Only one larva (photo 25,4 Kb) matures in a fruit, although more than one egg may be deposited in a single fruit. After oviposition the eggs hatch in five to eight days, and the young larvae (photo 25,4 Kb) tunnel directly to the surface of the cherry seed. They pass through three instars at an average of 11 days at 25 degrees Celsius.

By the time the cherries are ripe the larvae (photo 25,4 Kb) mature, drop to the ground, and burrow into the soil to a depth of 3cm to 8cm where they pupate (photo 56,6 Kb) and eventually over winter. Infested cherries at first do not fall but hang on the tree, and sunken areas may develop on some of them. By harvest time as many as 75 per cent of the cherries may be infested. Many larvae (photo 25,4 Kb) are likely to be in the fruits of early varieties at harvest time, pass undetected, and are distributed around the country in marketing. A few flies emerge in August and September as a second generation, but about 99 per cent require a year to complete a life cycle.

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Cultivated cherries (sweet cherry, Prunus avium L.; sour cherry, Prunus cerasus L.; Mahaleb or St. Lucie cherry, Prunus mahaleb L.) and wild cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.). R. cingulata has been reared from plum (Prunus spp.), fringe tree (Chionanthus virginica L.), and wild olive (Osmanthus americanus (L.) Gray). R. cingulata attacks both sweet and sour cherries while R. fausta primarily attacks the sour cherries. Since both are native species, their original food must have been the wild species of cherry.

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