Mexican Fruit Flies

Mexican fruit flies (Anastrepha ludens) pose a potential threat to agriculture in North America. Although the Mexican fruit fly is found most commonly in Central America, populations have begun to spread north through the American South and California. The Mexican fruit fly is considered an invasive species in the United States. It is attracted to all citrus, particularly mango and grapefruit crops. These flies measure 7 to 11 mm in length. Their bodies are slender and yellow-brown in color.

Image of a fruit fly

Like other fly species, the Mexican fruit fly develops through egg, larval and pupal stages before emerging as an adult. Fertilized females seek fruit within which to lay their eggs, ensuring an ample and easily accessible food supply. In ideal, subtropical temperatures, eggs hatch within six days. Upon hatching, they consume the host fruit and, in doing so, take on the fruit’s coloration. This makes Mexican fruit fly larvae extremely difficult to see. Larval development occurs within three to four weeks.

Agricultural regions employ large-scale, sophisticated measures such as the Sterile Insect Technique to control populations of Mexican fruit flies once they have been detected.