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Publication #EENY257

Natal Fruit Fly, Natal Fly, Ceratitis rosa Karsch (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae)1

H. V. Weems, Jr. and T. R. Fasulo2


The Natal fruit fly, Ceratitis rosa Karsch, which is sometimes call the Natal fly, was described in 1887 from specimens collected at Delagoa Bay, Mozambique. By 1900 it was recognized as a pest of orchard fruits throughout much of KwaZulu Natal Province, Republic of South Africa, and is considered to be the most common fruit fly of economic importance in Zimbabwe.

Following its accidental introduction into the island of Mauritius about 1953, this fly became firmly established and largely replaced the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), as a pest of fruits. In South Africa the Natal fruit fly ranks second in importance only to the Mediterranean fruit fly, and at times it is an even more serious pest. For example, 50 to 100 percent of plums were reportedly infested in a South African locality one year despite the application of control measures.

Although the Natal fruit fly was intercepted in the United States in a shipment of peaches arriving from South Africa, it never has been captured as an escapee in the United States. It continues to constitute a potential threat to Florida agriculture. If it were accidentally introduced into Florida and allowed to gain a foothold, the Natal fruit fly could prove to be fully as serious a menace as the Mediterranean fruit fly.


Pterandrus rosa (Karsch)

Pterandrus flavotibialis Hering


Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of South Africa (KwaZulu Natal), Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zimbabwe, and the islands of Mauritius and Reunion.


This fruit fly closely resembles the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) in appearance. It averages slightly larger and has the characteristic picture wings and dark black spots on the thorax. The arista of the antenna is plumose, while that of the Medfly bears only short pubescence. The frons of the male lacks the pair of conspicuous spatulate setae, which is found on the male Medfly. The mesothoracic tibiae of the males are clothed with dorsal and ventral brushes of elongated bluish-black scales, lacking in the Medfly. The ovipositor sheath of the female is shorter than the width at its base. Length of the fly is 4 to 5 mm.

Figure 1. 

Adult female Natal fruit fly, Ceratitis rosa Karsch.

Credit: Division of Plant Industry
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Life History and Habits

The Natal fruit fly overwinters in the adult stage and is able to withstand temperatures as low as 20°F, provided the warming period comes slowly. Food, water, and shelter are more important overwintering factors than temperature. Overwintering flies feed on honeydew and require an abundant water supply. This species is not attracted to traps during the winter months. Eggs are laid 10 to 20 at a time just below the fruit surface. Eggs may be laid in unblemished fruit and in ripe or unripe fruit. Eggs usually hatch within four days after oviposition, but may require longer than four days during cold weather. The three larval stages and a prepupal stage occupy a period of about 12 days. Pupation takes place in the soil, and the pupal stage lasts 10 to 20 days. Females usually begin oviposition in about seven days. Adults may live for several months. Entomologists estimate that under central Florida conditions there would be approximately ten generations per year.


This fruit fly infests many orchard fruits and wild fruits, including:

  • apple, Malus sylvestris

  • apricot, Prunus armeniaca

  • avocado, Persea americana

  • blackberry, Rubus spp.

  • cactus, Opuntia spp.

  • citrus, Citrus spp.

  • coffee, Coffea arabica

  • custard apple, Annona reticulata

  • fig, Ficus carica

  • forest peach, Rawsonia lucida

  • guava, Psidium spp.

  • imbe, Garcinia livingstonei

  • Kei-apple or umkokolo, Dovyalis caffra

  • lathberry, Eugenia cordata

  • loquat, Eriobotrya japonica

  • mango, Mangifera indica

  • Natal-orange, Strychnos spinosa

  • nectarine, Prunus persica nectarina

  • papaya, Carica papaya

  • peach, Prunus persica

  • pear, Pyrus communis

  • persimmon, Diospyros virginiana

  • plum, Prunus domestica

  • quince, Cydonia oblonga

  • red bitter-berry, Solanum giganteum

  • roseapple, Syzygium jambos

  • sapodilla, Manilkara zapota

  • soursop, Annona muricata

  • wooly nightshade, Solanum mauritianum

Peaches and guavas are particularly favored. Nut crops appear to be immune from attack.


Males are attracted to trimedlure and terpinyl acetate, but not methly eugenol (White and Elson-Harris 1994).

Selected References

Anonymous. 1928. Fruit-fly campaign at Cedara. Rev. Appl. Ent. (A) 15: 521. 1927. (From Farming in South Africa 1: 186. Pretoria. September 1962).

Anonymous. (16 January 2001). Ceratitis rosa. Agricultural Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa.$EntFull?ID=26409 (26 December 2001).

Froggatt, Walter W. 1909. Report on Parasitic and Injurious Insects. 1907-1908. New South Wales Department of Agriculture 115 pp.

USDA, Survey and Detection Operations, Plant Pest Control Division, Agricultural Research Service. Anonymous. 1963. Insects Not Known to Occur in the United States. Cooperative Economic Insect Report 13: 1-32. Natal Fruit Fly (Ceratitis rosa Karsch), pp. 14-16.

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



This document is EENY257, one of a series of the Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date January 2002. Revised March 2012. Reviewed April 2015. Visit the EDIS website at This document is also available on the Feature Creatures website at


H. V. Weems, Jr. (retired), Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry; and T. R. Fasulo, Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.