Mediterranean Fruit Fly, an insect that feeds on and destroys fruits and vegetables. It was first observed in the Mediterranean area in the early 1800's and later spread to other parts of the world.

It made destructive appearances in the United States in 1929, 1956, and 1981-82.

The fly is about a quarter inch (6 mm) long. Its body resembles that of a common housefly. The wings, which stand out from the body at a slight angle, are streaked with orange, brown, and black.

The Mediterranean fruit flyThe Mediterranean fruit fly is yellow-brown and feeds on fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

The adult fly lives on plant juices; it is the larva, or grub, that is the most destructive. The adult female bores a hole in the skin of a ripe fruit or vegetable, depositing one to six eggs there. On hatching, the larvae eat greedily and grow rapidly. The fruit soon drops to the ground and the larvae burrow into the earth where they finish their growth. A complete life cycle takes 15 to 40 days.

The Mediterranean fruit fly feeds on more than 200 species of plants. It is especially attracted to citrus fruit. When the insect appeared in Florida in 1929 the only method of control was to destroy all fruit in the infested area. This project was the first completely successful extermination program in history. Later infestations were controlled by spraying with pesticides, the sterilization of males by exposing them to radiation, and the use of baited traps containing insecticides.

The Mediterranean fruit fly is Ceratitis capitata. It belongs to the family Tephritidae of the order Diptera.