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I found this fruit fly in Pune/India. It was about 1 cm in size. I explored info on several species in same region, but they were different in appearance, especially that black spot in middle of body.
This insect might be Bactrocera dorsalis.
It looks similar to this species based on the characterstic yellow spots, shape of the abdomen, as well as the light brownish orange stripes on the abdomen.
I had arrived at this conclusion by reverse-image searching the second picture that you have posted and observing the thorax and abdomen patterns. This image shows a very similar pattern as shown in your second picture:
The Wikipedia article has quite some stuff to say,
Bactrocera dorsalis is a species of tephritid fruit fly that is endemic to Southeast Asia, but has also been introduced to Hawaii, the Mariana Islands and Tahiti. It is one of the major pest species in the genus Bactrocera with a broad host range of cultivated and wild fruits.
Considering that you had found this insect in Pune, it makes a lot of sense to conclude that this is, in fact, the insect that you have found.
Fruit fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) species identification: a rapid molecular diagnostic technique for quarantine application
New Zealand is currently the only major fruit producing country in the world that is free of economically important fruit flies. As part of the effort to maintain this status, there is a need to supplement quarantine decision-making procedures with a means of rapidly identifying immature life stage infestations to the species level. Here we describe a molecular method that achieves this, using simple restriction patterns of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) as diagnostic markers. The 18S and 18S plus internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions were amplified from larval DNA by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Nineteen species, spanning four genera (including five subgenera of Bactrocera ) were analysed. Restriction analysis of the 18S PCR product provided poor resolution, even at the generic level. Digestion of the 18S + ITS PCR product, however, generated thirteen diagnostic haplotypes as defined by the composite restriction patterns from Rsa I, Sau 3a Hae III and Alu I. No variation was detected at these restriction sites within or between populations. Twenty two restriction enzymes have been screened, but diagnostic RFLPs have yet to been found for six out of the ten Bactrocera (Bactrocera) species B. passiflorae (Froggatt) cannot be distinguished from B. facialis (Coquillet), nor B. kirki (Froggatt) from B. trilineola (Froggatt) or B. neohumeralis (Hardy) from B. tryoni (Froggatt). Geographic origin could assist in distinguishing the first four species, but the latter pair are very closely related with overlapping origins, hosts and adult morphology. All six species, however, are considered high risk with respect to their likely establishment in New Zealand. Therefore diagnosis based on this molecular technique would support the same quarantine decision. We consider this method could be useful as a diagnostic technique and discuss directions for further development.
The Bactrocera dorsalis complex of fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae: Dacinae) in Asia
Fifty-two species are placed in the Bactrocera dorsalis complex in Asia, eight of which are considered of economic importance. Twelve species are revised and the following forty new species described: Bactrocera atrifemur, B. bimaculata, B. carambolae, B. cibodasae, B. collita, B. floresiae, B. fulvifemur, B. fuscitibia, B. gombokensis, B. indonesiae, B. infulata, B. irvingiae, B. kanchanaburi, B. kandiensis, B. kinabalu, B. lateritaenia, B. latilineola, B. lombokensis, B. makilingensis, B. malaysiensis, B. melastomatos, B. merapiensis, B. minuscula, B. neocognata, B. neopropinqua, B. osbeckiae, B. papayae, B. penecognata, B. philippinensis, B. pyrifoliae, B. quasipropinqua, B. raiensis, B. sembaliensis, B. sulawesiae, B. sumbawaensis, B. thailandica, B. unimacula, B. usitata, B. verbascifoliae and B. vishnu . A key to species within the complex is presented. Information is given on location of type specimens, host-plants, attractant records and geographic distribution. Lectotypes are designated for B. dorsalis (Hendel), B. mangiferae (Cotes) (a synonym of B. zonata (Saunders)) and B. pedestris (Bezzi).
U nder favourable conditions female fruit flies become sexually mature and capable of laying eggs about 5 days after they emerge. After mating they actively seek out ripening fruit, and deposit their banana-shaped eggs in a small cavity just below the skin. Oviposition (sting) sites appear as small brown spots on the surface of the fruit, under which is a cavity with one to more than 20 eggs.
After 2 to 3 days in favourable conditions the minute, transparent larvae hatch and start feeding on the flesh of the fruit, slowly tunnelling towards the core. The larvae have a sharply-pointed front end with no obvious head, and a blunt rear end, and become cream-coloured as they get older. Early infestation is often indicated by a brown colouration of the fruit flesh in the area of feeding due to oxidation of the tissues. From about 7 to 40 days later, depending on fruit kind and temperature, the larvae reach maturity (8 to 10 mm long), when they leave the fruit, fall to the ground and pupate just below the surface of the soil. About 8 to 40 days later, depending on temperature, the adult flies emerge from the pupae, crawl up to the soil surface, and the cycle is complete.
During warm conditions and in ripe fruit, the life cycle can be completed in as little as 3 to 4 weeks. This duration can increase to about 2 or 3 months in winter or where eggs are laid in greener fruit.
Researchers Discover Species-Recognition System in Fruit Flies
A team led by UC San Francisco researchers has discovered a sensory system in the foreleg of the fruit fly that tells male flies whether a potential mate is from a different species. The work addresses a central problem in evolution that is poorly understood: how animals of one species know not to mate with animals of other species.
For the common fruit fly D. melanogaster, the answer lies in the chemoreceptor Gr32a, located on sensory neurons on the male fly's foreleg. "In nature, this sensory system would prevent the creation of hybrids that may not survive or cannot propagate, thereby helping the species preserve its identity," said senior author Nirao M. Shah, MD, PhD, a UCSF associate professor of anatomy.
The work is reported in a paper published online in Cell on June 27, 2013.
Before mating, the researchers found, the male approaches a prospective female and taps her repeatedly on the side with his foreleg. "As he does so, he is using Gr32a to detect, or actually taste, unpleasant-tasting waxy chemicals on the cuticle, or outer skin, of individuals of other species, said co-author Devanand S. Manoli, MD, PhD, a UCSF postdoctoral fellow in anatomy and fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry. "If the prospective mate is not of the same species, and Gr32a is activated, the mating ritual stops right there, even if the male has never encountered a female of another species before."
The researchers also found that if the male fly's Gr32a neurons are activated directly, courtship with other species can be suppressed in these male flies. "These and other findings show that Gr32a neurons are both necessary, in terms of having this taste receptor, and sufficient, in terms of their activity, to prevent males from courting females of other species," said Manoli.
Remarkably, said Shah, Gr32a mediates the rejection of a large range of fruit fly species that last shared a common ancestor with D. melanogaster two to 40 million years ago.
"Indeed, D. melanogaster males lacking Gr32a will attempt to mate with fruit flies of other species even if these species are two to three times larger and look different to the untrained human eye," Shah said. "Of course, these other species reject such mating attempts."
Likewise, when the section of the foreleg with Gr32a neurons is surgically removed, said Manoli, the male will court females of other species. "We also observe this behavior when we remove the forelegs of males in species that are closely related to D. melanogaster," he said, "but not in D. virilis, which is a more distantly related species. It's possible that D. virilis is using a different mechanism to distinguish other species -- we don't know yet."
Another discovery in D. melanogaster, said Shah, is that neurons in the fly's brain, expressing male-specific versions of the gene known as fruitless, "seem to connect up with these Gr32-sensing neurons on the foreleg. So we've begun to delineate not only the sensory pathway but also the central components of the neural circuit that is activated when the male encounters an animal from another species."
Interestingly, said Shah, males use a mechanism that is "similar, but not identical," to inhibit the courting of other males of the same species. "That system involves additional chemoreceptors and neural pathways, which makes sense," he said, "since if you're a male, other males of your own species might be competing with you for food, territory and mates, and so you would be identifying them for different reasons, in different circumstances."
The scientists were surprised to discover that although a D. melanogaster female has neurons that express Gr32a, she does not use them to reject males of other species. "This does make intuitive sense," said Shah. "Males and females have evolved different systems for rejecting potential mates from other species because they have different biological needs for reproduction. Females invest far more energy in generating offspring -- laying eggs, for example, or in mammals, carrying young in the womb. Males generate sperm in large numbers, which is not as energetically expensive."
Manoli noted that other animals may have equivalent mechanisms for distinguishing members of other species, "but these are going to be specific to the ecological niches of those species -- that is, how they function in their environments. Rodents, for example, like flies, primarily use smell to find mates and food, and avoid predators. Some species of fish use electrical impulses. Many primates, including humans, rely on visual and auditory cues."
Yeast are known to use chemosensory mechanisms to not initiate sexual modes of reproduction with other yeast species, said Shah, who cited pioneering research in yeast done by UCSF faculty, including David Julius, PhD and the late Ira Herskowitz, PhD.
For Shah and his team, the next step is to investigate whether other fruit fly species also use Gr32a to tell other species from their own. "We want to see if this system is conserved across related species," he said.
Co-authors of the study are Pu Fan and Osama M. Ahmed of UCSF Yi Chen of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UCLA Neha Agarwal, Sara Kwong, Allen G. Cai, Jeffrey Neitz, PhD, and Adam Renslo, PhD, of UCSF and Bruce S. Baker, PhD, of HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, VA.
The study was supported by funds from the China Scholarship Council, HHMI, a NARSAD grant, the UCSF Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research, the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the McKnight Foundation for Neuroscience and the Sloan Foundation.
Help me identify species of fruit fly? - Biology
The oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), is a very destructive pest of fruit in areas where it occurs. It is native to large parts of tropical Asia, has become established over much of sub-Saharan Africa, and is often intercepted in the United States, sometimes triggering eradication programs.
Figure 1. Adult female oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), laying eggs by inserting her ovipositor in a papaya. Photograph by Scott Bauer, USDA.
Synonymy (Back to Top)
Bactrocera dorsalis was formerly known as Dacus dorsalis. Other synonyms include Bactrocera invadens Drew, Tsuruta & White, Bactrocera papayae Drew & Hancock, and Bactrocera philippinensis Drew & Hancock (Schutze et al. 2015).
Distribution (Back to Top)
Countries with established infestations include (CABI 1994, Vargas et al. 2007):
Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (southern), Hong Kong, India (numerous states), Indonesia, Japan (Ryukyu Islands), Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Ogasawara Islands, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Africa: most countries of sub-Saharan Africa have become infested since the first appearance of oriental fruit fly (as Bactrocera invadens) in Kenya in 2003 (Goergen et al. 2011)
Pacific Islands: Mariana Islands, Tahiti, Hawaii
In the United States, oriental fruit fly is currently present on all major Hawaiian islands after being accidentally introduced there 1944 or 1945 (Mau 2007).
Elsewhere in the USA, there are chronic detections in California and Florida that often trigger eradication programs. Four major oriental fruit fly infestations in California were eradicated between 1960 and 1997. Additional infestations were detected in 2002 and 2004, and were eradicated in 2006 and 2007 respectively. In July 2010, fruit flies were discovered in traps in Sacramento and Placer counties. A quarantine was established and an eradication program begun (CDFA 2010).
While not established in Florida, oriental fruit fly and relatives, such as Bactrocera correcta, are regularly trapped in this state. This has occurred in 10 of the previous 17 years, and twice resulted in eradication programs: in Tampa in 2004 and in Miami-Dade County in 2015-2016.
Description (Back to Top)
Adult: The adult, which is noticeably larger than a house fly, has a body length of about 8.0 mm the wing is about 7.3 mm in length and is mostly hyaline. The color of the fly is very variable, but there are prominant yellow and dark brown to black markings on the thorax. Generally, the abdomen has two horizontal black stripes and a longitudinal median stripe extending from the base of the third segment to the apex of the abdomen. These markings may form a T-shaped pattern, but the pattern varies considerably. The ovipositor is very slender and sharply pointed.
Figure 2. Adult female (center) and anterior spiracle of third instar larva (lower left). Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.
Figure 3. Adults of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Photograph by Okinawa Prefectural Fruit Fly Eradication Project Office.
Figure 4. Adult female oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), laying eggs in fruit. Photograph by Scott Bauer, USDA.
Figure 5. Ovipositor of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Photograph by Okinawa Prefectural Fruit Fly Eradication Project Office.
Egg: The white, elongate and elliptical egg measures about 1.17 x 0.21 mm and has a chorion without sculpturing.
Figure 6. Eggs of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Photograph by Okinawa Prefectural Fruit Fly Eradication Project Office.
Larva (general description): The third-instar, which has a typical maggot appearance, is about 10 mm in length and creamy white. The only band of spinules encircling the body is found on the first segment. The external part of the anterior respiratory organs, the spiracles, located one on each side of the pointed or head end of the larva, has an exaggerated and deflexed lobe at each side and bears many small tubercles. The caudal segment is very smooth. The posterior spiracles are located in the dorsal third of the segment as viewed from the rear of the larva. The mature larva emerges from the fruit, drops to the ground, and forms a tan to dark brown puparium about 4.9 mm in length.
Figure 7. Larvae of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Photograph by Okinawa Prefectural Fruit Fly Eradication Project Office.
Larva (scientific description): The larva of the oriental fruit fly is quite similar to that of the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) (Berg 1979, Hardy and Adachi 1956, Pruitt 1953). The following characters, in particular, distinguish larvae of the oriental fruit fly from the medfly (Heppner 1985): the anterior spiracles are aligned with a straighter distal margin than in the medfly and the tubules (9-11) are noticeably bulbous the cephalo-pharyngeal skeleton has a distinct sclerotized area between the post-hypostomial plates and the dorsal bridge the caudal end has papillules I1-2 as distinct points, widely separated, on a raised margin, and D1-2 are less approximate and the posterior spiracles are not as elongated (only about 3X width compared to 4-5X width in the medfly).
Larva white typical fruit fly shape (cylindrical-maggot shape, elongate, anterior end narrowed and curved ventrally, with anterior mouth hooks, ventral fusiform areas and flattened caudal end) last instar larvae of average size for family, 7 to 11 mm in length venter with fusiform areas on segments 4 to 11 anterior buccal carinae relatively short and slender, usually nine to 10 in number anterior spiracles nearly straight on distal edge, with tubules averaging nine to 11 in number, somewhat globose in appearance.
Figure 8. Head and buccal carinae of larva. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.
Figure 9. Anterior spiracle of larva. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.
Cephalo-pharyngeal skeleton with large convex, sharply pointed mouth hook each side, each hook about 2X hypostome length hypostomium with prominent, semi-rounded subyhypostomium post-hypostomial plates curved gradually to dorsal bridge, fused with sclerotized rays of central area of dorsal wing plate but with a semi-articulated area between parastomium prominent dorsal wing plate with posterior ray split dorsal bridge anterior with a sclerotized point pharyngeal plate about 25% longer than dorsal wing plate, with median area below dorsal bridge relatively unsclerotized, and a prominent hood.
Figure 10. Cephalo-pharyngeal skeleton of larva. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.
Caudal end with paired dorsal papillules (D1 and D2) diagonally dorsad to each spiracular plate intermediate papillules (I1-2) as widely-separated pair on a large raised and curved elevation diagonally ventrad of each spiracular plate, with a remote I3 at about 45° from the I1-2 elevation L1 on the median edge of the caudal end a pair of ventral papillules (V1-2) approximately ventrad of I2 near the latero-ventral edge of the caudal end (V2 indistinct) posterior spiracles as three elongated (ca. 3X width) oval openings on each kidney-shaped spiracular plate, with dorsal and ventral spiracles angled to the caudal end center, and the median spiracle relatively straight interspiracular processes (hairs) numerous, at four sites on each plate, latero-distal to spiracles, and the tips usually bifurcate anal lobes entire and prominent.
Figure 11. Caudal end of larva. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.
Figure 12. Posterior spiracles and anal lobes of larva. Drawing by Division of Plant Industry.
The above descriptions were from larvae examined in verified samples from Hawaii (in immatures collection of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods).
Life History (Back to Top)
Development from egg to adult under summer conditions requires about 16 days. The mature larva emerges from the fruit, drops to the ground, and forms a tan to dark brown puparium. Pupation occurs in the soil. About nine days are required for attainment of sexual maturity after the adult fly emerges. The developmental periods may be extended considerably by cool weather. Under optimum conditions, a female can lay more than 3,000 eggs during her lifetime, but under field conditions from 1,200 to 1,500 eggs per female is considered to be the usual production. Apparently, ripe fruit are preferred for oviposition, but immature ones may also be attacked.
Hosts and Damage (Back to Top)
The oriental fruit fly has been recorded from 478 kinds of fruit and vegetables (USDA 2016), including: apricot, avocado, banana, citrus, coffee, fig, guava, loquat, mango, roseapple, papaya, passion fruit, peach, pear, persimmon, pineapple, surinam cherry and tomato. However, avocado, mango and papaya are the most commonly attacked.
In Hawaii, larvae were found in more than 125 kinds of hosts. Infestations of 50&ndash80% have been recorded in pear, peach, apricot, fig and other fruits in West Pakistan. It is the principal pest of mangoes in the Philippines. It was a serious pest of citrus and other subtropical fruits in Japan, Okinawa, and the Japanese islands of Amami, Miyako, and Bonin before it was eradicated.
Damage, Quarantine and Management (Back to Top)
Injury to fruit, as with other members of this genus of fruit flies, occurs through oviposition punctures and subsequent larval development. It was introduced into the Hawaiian Islands about 1945, apparently by U.S. military troops returning to the islands. Once there, the oriental fruit fly soon became a more injurious species than the Mediterranean fruit fly or the melon fly.
Figure 13. Adults of the wasp Biosteres arisanus, a parasitoid of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Photograph by Scott Bauer, USDA.
All Japanese territories were declared free of the oriental fruit fly in 1985, after an 18-year program of eradication combining insecticide-impregnated fiberblocks or cotton containing the powerful male attractant methyl-eugenol, and the sterile insect (sterile male) technique. Steiner traps baited with a lure and toxicant are also used to monitor the presence and control of the flies.
Figure 14. Female oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, ovipositing on citrus fruit. Photograph by Okinawa Prefectural Fruit Fly Eradication Project Office.
Figure 15. Steiner trap used to monitor and control the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Photograph by Okinawa Prefectural Fruit Fly Eradication Project Office.
This pest has been intercepted on many occasions at ports of entry on the U.S. mainland. The extensive damage caused by the oriental fruit fly in areas similar to Florida indicates that this species could rapidly become a very serious pest of citrus and other fruit and vegetables if it became established in Florida.
USDA-APHIS, in cooperation with threatened states, has established action plans that go into effect when fruit flies are trapped and reported (USDA 2008).
In Florida, the FDACS-Division of Plant Industry will cooperate with USDA-APHIS in regulating the actions of both commercial entities and homeowners.
Selected References (Back to Top)
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- Hardy DE. 1949. Studies in Hawaiian fruit flies (Diptera, Tephritidae). Proceedings of the Entomology Society of Washington 51: 181-205.
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- Heppner JB. 1985. Larvae of fruit flies. II. Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry Entomology Circular 273.
- Liquido NJ. 1991. Effect of ripeness and location of papaya fruits on the parasitization rates of Oriental fruit fly and melon fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) by braconid (Hymenoptera) parasitoids. Environmental Entomology 20: 1732-1736.
- Phillips VT. 1946. The biology and identification of trypetid larvae (Diptera: Trypetidae). Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 12: 1-161.
- Pruitt JH. 1953. Identification of Fruit Fly Larvae Frequently Intercepted at Ports of Entry of the United States. University of Florida (Gainesville), MS thesis. 69 pp.
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- Steck GJ. (July 2007). Oriental Fruit Fly Information. FDACS-DPI. http://doacs.state.fl.us/pi/enpp/ento/off.html (no longer online).
- USDA. (2016). A Review of Recorded Host Plants of Oriental Fruit Fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Version 2.1 A Product of the USDA Compendium of Fruit Fly Host Information (CoFFHI). A Farm Bill Project. July 22, 2016.
- Vargas RI, Leblanc L, Putoa R, Eitam A. 2007. Impact of introduction of Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae) and classical biological control releases of Fopius arisanus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) on economically important fruit flies in French Polynesia. Journal of Economic Entomology 100: 670-9.
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Web Design: Don Wasik, Jane Medley
Publication Number: EENY-83
Publication Date: May 1999. Latest revision: August 2016. Latest review: September 2019.
(1) Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jln. Flora No. 1, Bulaksumur, Sleman, Yogyakarta 55281
(2) Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jln. Flora No. 1, Bulaksumur, Sleman, Yogyakarta 55281
(3) Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Jln. Flora No. 1, Bulaksumur, Sleman, Yogyakarta 55281
(4) Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 28 Peters St, Mareeba, Qld, 4880
(5) Consultant Entomologist, 25 Mabb Street, Kenmore, Queensland 4069
(*) Corresponding Author
Fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) are major pests of fruits and vegetables in many countries, including Indonesia. Knowledge of the fruit fly host range in a specific area is an important part of the area-wide pest management program to reduce the pest problem. The aim of this study was to extend and update the information on the host range of fruit flies in the Regency of Sleman, Yogyakarta. This area is one of the centers of fruit production, particularly snake fruit in Indonesia. Fruit sampling was conducted from August 2019 to February 2020 in four sub-districts in Sleman consisting of different types of agro-ecosystems. Fruit rearing was carried out in the laboratory followed by identification of the fruit and fruit flies that emerged to species level. From the 23 species of fruits belonging to 14 different families that were collected, the following 6 species of fruit flies emerged: Bactrocera dorsalis, B. carambolae, B. umbrosa, B. albistrigata, B. mcgregori, and Zeugodacus cucurbitae. Bactrocera dorsalis and B. carambolae utilized the widest range of hosts, 12 and 11 species of fruits, respectively. Syzygium cumini, Malpighia emarginata, and Phaleria macrocarpa were recorded for the first time as new hosts of B. carambolae in Indonesia. Additional data of B. dorsalis and B. carambolae infesting salak cv. pondoh is also reported.
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Clarke, A.R. 2019. Biology and Management of Bactrocera and Related Fruit Flies. CAB International. Wallingforfd, UK. 269 p.
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Cugala, D., J.J. Jordane, & S. Ekesi. 2017. Non-host Status of Papaya Cultivars to the Oriental Fruit Fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae), in Relation to the Degree of Fruit Ripeness. International Journal of Tropical Insect Science 37: 19-29.
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Larasati, A., P. Hidayat, & D. Buchori. 2013. Keanekaragaman dan Persebaran Lalat Buah Tribe Dacini (Diptera: Tephritidae) di Kabupaten Bogor dan Sekitarnya. Jurnal Entomologi Indonesia 10: 51-59.
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Help me identify species of fruit fly? - Biology
Biologists Laura Reed and Prof Therese Markow made the discovery by observing breeding patterns of fruit flies that live on rotting cacti in deserts.
The work could help scientists identify the genetic changes that lead one species to evolve into two species.
The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Whether the two closely related fruit fly populations the scientists studied - Drosophila mojavensis and Drosophila arizonae - represent one species or two is still debated by biologists.
However, the University of Arizona researchers believe the insects are in the early stages of diverging into separate species.
The emergence of a new species - speciation - occurs when distinct populations of a species stop reproducing with one another.
Though speciation is a crucial element of understanding how evolution works, biologists have not been able to discover the factors that initiate the process.
In fruit flies there are several examples of mutant genes that prevent different species from breeding but scientists do not know if they are the cause or just a consequence of speciation.
In the wild, Drosophila mojavensis and Drosophila arizonae rarely, if ever, interbreed - even though their geographical ranges overlap.
In the lab, researchers can coax successful breeding but there are complications.
Drosophila mojavensis mothers typically produce healthy offspring after mating with Drosophila arizonae males, but when Drosophila arizonae females mate with Drosphila mojavensis males, the resulting males are sterile.
Laura Reed maintains that such limited capacity for interbreeding indicates that the two groups are on the verge of becoming completely separate species.
Another finding that adds support to that idea is that in a strain of Drosophila mojavensis from southern California's Catalina Island, mothers always produce sterile males when mated with Drosophila arizonae males.
Because the hybrid male's sterility depends on the mother's genes, the researchers say the genetic change must be recent.
Reed has also discovered that only about half the females in the Catalina Island population had the gene (or genes) that confer sterility in the hybrid male offspring.
However, when she looked at the Drosophila mojavensis females from other geographic regions, she found that a small fraction of those populations also exhibited the hybrid male sterility.
The newly begun Drosophila mojavensis genome sequencing project, which will provide a complete roadmap of every gene in the species, will help scientists pin down which genes are involved in speciation.
Pictures of Flies
Several different types of flies make their home in the Mid-Atlantic states. While all flies share certain characteristics, size and appearance differ among each species. Some of the most common flies in the region are the house fly, cluster fly, fruit fly, filth fly, and gnat.
Browse the photos on this page to see several different types of flies. You’ll learn information about what the pests look like from these fly images, so you can correctly identify the insects if you see one in your home or business.
Larger than common houseflies, the bottle fly possesses large, red compound eyes and clear, brown-veined wings.
Side and top view sketches of a bottle fly
As seen in these two pest pictures, a bottle fly has large red eyes and a pair of veined wings. The pests can be metallic blue, green, or bronze in color.
Rear, side, and top views of bottle flies
A group of bottle flies in a pile of droppings
Often spotted in groups around rotting organic matter and pet waste in yards, these pests are slightly larger and rounder than the common house fly.
Close up photo of a cluster fly
Sometimes mistaken for a house fly, cluster flies are less than half an inch in length. This pest has a checkered back, and its yellowish hairs can give off a golden sheen which helps with cluster fly identification.
Top view cluster fly images
Cluster fly pictured on a plant
Cluster flies have a dark gray, non-metallic torso and are just under a half-inch long. Size and speed distinguish this species from a common house fly. Cluster flies are larger, and these sluggish fliers are slow movers compared to house flies.
Photos of cluster flies from various angles
Side profile sketch of a common house fly
In this house fly photo, you can see the four narrow black stripes on the abdomen that differentiate this pest from other species. House flies vary from one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch in length.
Close-up, top-view house fly photos
Both male and female adult house flies have gray or yellow abdomens with black lines, with males having a yellow underside as well.
A house fly next to a penny for reference
A close-up front-view image of a house fly
A house fly has red eyes, but the spacing can show the difference between the sexes. A female’s eyes are wide-set, while the male’s eyes are so close together that they’re almost touching.
Rear-view photograph of a house fly
Close-up view of a filth fly
Filth flies are distinguishable by their large red eyes. Female filth flies have two distinct eyes, while male filth flies have a single conjoined eye.
Fruit flies are light yellowish-brown to dark brown in color and measure about an eighth of an inch in length. While some may differ in color to some degree, most fruit flies also have red eyes.
These small, slender insects range from gray to black in color. Gnats in the Mid-Atlantic region have long mosquito-like legs and antennae, which can make identification difficult.
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