European Cherry Fruit Fly

Invasive and Exotic Pest Fact Sheet

Rhagoletis cerasi

Categories: Fruit • Cherries • Invasive
 

 

European Cherry Fruit Fly Overview

An insect pest native to Europe and parts of Asia, European cherry fruit fly larvae feed on cherry varieties such as sweet cherry, tart cherry, all saints cherry, mahaleb cherry, and black cherry. This insect can also feed on honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) fruit, including those of invasive honeysuckles (L. tartarica and L. morrowii). Concern has been raised about the devastation European cherry fruit fly could cause to cherry crops in the United States as it has been found in association with honeysuckle in Ontario, Canada.

Concern

A serious problem in Europe, European cherry fruit fly has the potential to infest 100% of sweet and tart cherry crops causing cherries to be unmarketable. With a value of about $767 million for sweet cherries, and $106 million for tart cherries in the U.S., infestation could cause large economic losses for growers as well as possible quarantines. It is one of several Tephritid fruit flies which already occur in North America and infest cherry, including black cherry fruit fly (R.  fausta) and cherry fruit fly (R. cingulata). Introduction of another species could disrupt existing IPM programs and make more difficult.

Description of European Cherry Fruit Fly

Female European cherry fruit flies are typically 3/16 inch (5 mm) in length and males are 1/8 inch (4 mm) in length. Flies have a tan head and a black body with a distinctive yellow spot on the thorax. The wings are clear with four large distinct blue-black bands and one small band. The European cherry fruit fly can be distinguished from other similar cherry fruit fly species by the different band patterns. Larvae are white in color and are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) in length. Overwintering in the soil, pupae are light yellow-brown and approximately 1/8 inch (3-4 mm) long. Adult European cherry fruit flies are often observed on sunlit portions of cherry trees or honeysuckle bushes because females prefer to lay eggs in fruit bathed in sunlight.

 

dorsal view of european cherry fruit fly female

Adult European CFF female. Photo: C. Daniel and J. Grunder. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

European cherry fruit fly male top view

Adult European CFF male. Photo: C. Daniel and J. Grunder. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

yellowish oval pupae with ridges on soil

European cherry fruit fly pupae in the soil. Photo: C. Daniel and J. Grunder. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Damage caused by European Cherry Fruit Fly

Cherries in which an egg has been laid will exhibit a puncture wound and as the larva develops in the fruit, the tissue around the wound will become brown and soft. When cutting or breaking open suspect fruit, the larvae and internal fruit damage can be readily seen. Typically, only one egg laying or oviposition site is found per cherry, although it is possible to have more. Infested cherries may shrivel, display soft spots, and rot. Infested cherries may also have small holes formed when larvae exit the cherry to drop to the ground to pupate. Growers cannot sell infested cherries for fresh or processed fruit and must dump them or sell to distilleries at a financial loss.

two cherries with small holes with brownish gray areas around the holes

Damage on cherries from a European cherry fruit fly oviposition site. Photo: Coutlin R./OPIE, inspection.gc.ca

cherries cut in half with visible larvae

Damage to cherries caused by European cherry fruit fly larvae. Photo: C. Daniel and J. Grunder. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Authors

  • Juliet Carroll, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University
  • Taylere Herrmann, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University

Updated: December 2019

Julie Carroll
Juliet Carroll

Senior Extension Associate, Emerita (retired – active)

School of Integrative Plant Science

Juliet Carroll
  • jec3 [at] cornell.edu
Integrated pest management
Tree Fruit
Grapes and Berries
portrait of Anna Wallis
Anna Wallis

Senior Extension Associate

NYS Integrated Pest Management

Anna Wallis
headshot of Taylere Herrmann
Taylere Herrmann

Technician

School of Integrative Plant Science

Cornell AgriTech

Taylere Herrmann
  • th589 [at] cornell.edu