Bactrocera carambolae (carambola fruit fly)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Detection and Inspection
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Bactrocera carambolae Drew & Hancock
Preferred Common Name
- carambola fruit fly
Other Scientific Names
- Bactrocera sp. near dorsalis (A) (Hendel)
- BCTRCB (Bactrocera carambolae)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Diptera
- Family: Tephritidae
- Genus: Bactrocera
- Species: Bactrocera carambolae
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page B. carambolae is a member of the Oriental fruit fly, B. dorsalis, species complex. A general review of this group is presented in a special datasheet covering the complex. This species complex forms a group within the subgenus Bactrocera and the name may therefore be cited as Bactrocera (Bactrocera) carambolae. It should be noted that White and Elson-Harris (1992) gave code names to species that had not been formally named at that time and B. carambolae was cited as Bactrocera sp. near B. dorsalis (A).
DescriptionTop of page Egg
The egg of B. oleae was described in detail by Margaritis (1985) and those of other species are probably very similar. Size, 0.8 mm long, 0.2 mm wide, with the micropyle protruding slightly at the anterior end. The chorion is reticulate (requires scanning electron microscope examination). White to yellow-white in colour.
The following larval description was taken from White and Elson-Harris (1994):
B. carambolae third instar larva: larvae medium-sized, length 7.5-9.5 mm; width 1.5-2.0 mm. Head: stomal sensory organ large, with 5 preoral lobes (at most 1 lobe with small serrations); oral ridges with 8-10 rows of large, deeply serrated, blunt-edged teeth; 8-11 small accessory plates with strongly serrated edges; mouthhooks sclerotized, without preapical teeth. Thoracic and abdominal segments: encircling bands of discontinuous rows of small spinules on anterior portion of each thoracic segment. T1 with 11-17 rows of large, sharply pointed spinules, forming small groups dorsally which gradually become discontinuous rows laterally and ventrally; T2 and T3 with 5-7 rows of smaller, stouter spinules. Creeping welts with small, stout spinules similar to those on T2, with 1 posterior row of slightly larger spinules. A8 with well defined intermediate areas and obvious sensilla. Anterior spiracles: 9-15 prominent tubules. Posterior spiracles: spiracular slits thick walled; about 2.5-3.0 times as long as broad. Spiracular hair bundles of 10-15 hairs in dorsal and ventral groups and 4-7 in lateral bundles; each hair with a broad trunk, branched in apical third and about the same length as a spiracular slit. Anal area: lobes large, protuberant, with 3-7 surrounding rows of small, stout, slightly curved spinules forming a small concentration just below anal opening.
Barrel-shaped with most larval features unrecognisable, the exception being the anterior and posterior spiracles which are little changed by pupariation. White to yellow-brown in colour. Usually about 60-80% length of larva.
Drew and Hancock (1994) distinguish the B. dorsalis species complex as follows: Bactrocera (Bactrocera) spp. with a clear wing membrane, except for a narrow costal band (not reaching R4+5); cells bc and c colourless (except in a few non-pests with a very pale tint) and devoid of microtrichia. Scutum mostly black; with lateral but not medial vittae; yellow scutellum, except for basal band which is usually very narrow; abdomen with a medial dark stripe on T3-T5; dark laterally (but form of marking varies from species to species).
B. carambolae belongs to a subgroup which have yellow postpronotal lobes, parallel lateral vittae, and femora not extensively marked. Within this group it is distinguished by its short aculeus/aedeagus; tomentum with no gap; deep costal band; intermediate abdominal markings.
The CABIKEY to pest Dacini included here permits the separation of this species from others likely to be reared from cultivated fruit.
DistributionTop of page B. carambolae is found in Malaysia, the southern (peninsular) area of Thailand and throughout western Indonesia. For a discussion of the distributions of related species see the datasheet on the B. dorsalis species complex. The distribution of B. carambolae was mapped by IIE (1994).
See also CABI/EPPO (1998, No. 20).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Brunei Darussalam||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|India||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|Indonesia||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Java||Present||Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present||Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sabah||Present||Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|Singapore||Present||Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|Thailand||Restricted distribution||CABIKEY; Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|Brazil||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Amapa||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|French Guiana||Restricted distribution||CPPC; Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|Guyana||Eradicated||1994||IIE, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
|Suriname||Restricted distribution||1975||CPPC; Drew and Hancock, 1994; EPPO, 2014|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page The major risk is from the import of fruit containing larvae, either as part of cargo, or through the smuggling of fruit in airline passenger baggage or mail. For example, in New Zealand Baker and Cowley (1991) recorded 7-33 interceptions of fruit flies per year in cargo and 10-28 per year in passenger baggage. Individuals who successfully smuggle fruit are likely to discard it when they discover that it is rotten. This method of introduction probably accounts for the discovery of at least one fly in a methyl eugenol trap in California every year (Foote et al., 1993) although immediate implementation of eradication action plans has ensured that the fly has never been able to establish a proper breeding population.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page B. carambolae is a serious pest of Averrhoa carambola. However, its total host list is very extensive and the following list of economically important hosts is necessarily a mix of important hosts and others that are rarely attacked. Most of the data was gathered by an extensive hosts fruit survey carried out in Malaysia and Thailand (Allwood et al., 1999) supplemented with some extra records from Yong (1994), Ranganath and Veenakumari (1995) and Ranganath et al. (1997).
In addition to the hosts listed, Annona montana, Artocarpus elasticus, A. odoratissimus, A. rigidus, Baccaurea motleyana, Lansium domesticum, Solanum ferox [S. lasiocarpum] and Triphasia trifolia are also hosts of B. carambolae.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Anacardium occidentale (cashew nut)||Anacardiaceae||Other|
|Annona muricata (soursop)||Annonaceae||Main|
|Arenga pinnata (sugar palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit)||Moraceae||Other|
|Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit)||Moraceae||Other|
|Artocarpus integer (champedak)||Moraceae||Main|
|Averrhoa bilimbi (bilimbi)||Oxalidaceae||Other|
|Averrhoa carambola (carambola)||Oxalidaceae||Main|
|Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Capsicum chinense (habanero pepper)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Carica papaya (pawpaw)||Caricaceae||Main|
|Chrysobalanus icaco (icaco plum)||Chrysobalanaceae||Other|
|Chrysophyllum cainito (caimito)||Sapotaceae||Other|
|Citrus aurantiifolia (lime)||Rutaceae||Main|
|Citrus limon (lemon)||Rutaceae||Main|
|Citrus limonia (mandarin lime)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Citrus reticulata (mandarin)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Citrus sinensis (navel orange)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit)||Rutaceae||Other|
|Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Fortunella margarita (oval kumquat)||Rutaceae||Main|
|Garcinia mangostana (mangosteen)||Clusiaceae||Main|
|Genipa americana (genipap)||Rubiaceae||Other|
|Malpighia glabra (acerola)||Malpighiaceae||Other|
|Mangifera indica (mango)||Anacardiaceae||Other|
|Manilkara zapota (sapodilla)||Sapotaceae||Other|
|Mimusops elengi (spanish cherry)||Sapotaceae||Main|
|Persea americana (avocado)||Lauraceae||Main|
|Pouteria campechiana (canistel)||Sapotaceae||Main|
|Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava)||Myrtaceae||Main|
|Psidium guajava (guava)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Punica granatum (pomegranate)||Punicaceae||Main|
|Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Spondias dulcis (otaheite apple)||Anacardiaceae||Other|
|Syzygium aqueum (watery rose-apple)||Myrtaceae||Main|
|Syzygium jambos (rose apple)||Myrtaceae||Main|
|Syzygium malaccense (Malay apple)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Syzygium samarangense (water apple)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Terminalia catappa (Singapore almond)||Combretaceae||Other|
|Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander)||Apocynaceae||Main|
|Ziziphus jujuba (common jujube)||Rhamnaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Fruiting stage
SymptomsTop of page Following oviposition there may be some necrosis around the puncture mark ('sting'). This is followed by decomposition of the fruit.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / internal feeding|
|Fruit / lesions: black or brown|
|Fruit / premature drop|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
No specific details on the biology of B. carambolae are available. Eggs of related species are laid below the skin of the host fruit. These hatch within a day (although delayed up to 20 days in cool conditions) and the larvae feed for another 6-35 days, depending on season. Pupariation is in the soil under the host plant for 10-12 days but may be delayed for up to 90 days under cool conditions. Adults occur throughout the year and begin mating after about 8-12 days, and may live 1-3 months depending on temperature (up to 12 months in cool conditions) (Christenson and Foote, 1960). Adult flight and the transport of infected fruit are the major means of movement and dispersal to previously uninfested areas.
[Erratum: In previous versions of this datasheet, it was stated that “many Bactrocera spp. can fly 50-100 km (Fletcher, 1989)” but a review of Fletcher (1989a) and Fletcher (1989b) by Hicks (2016, unpublished data, USDA) found no evidence to support this statement and it has been removed. Fletcher (1989b) provides dispersal data for only 11 of 651 species of Bactrocera, many of the case studies lack the necessary numerical data, and the study did not discern between active flight and passive wind-assisted dispersal. There are differences among fruit fly species and further studies are required to determine dispersal distances for individual species. For further information on trapping Bactrocera species to monitor movement, see Weldon et al. (2014).]
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page Bactrocera spp. can be attacked as larvae either by parasitoids or by vertebrates eating fruit (either on the tree or as fallen fruit). Mortality due to vertebrate fruit consumption can be very high as can puparial mortality in the soil, either due to predation or environmental mortality (see White and Elson-Harris, 1994, for brief review). Parasitoids appear to have little effect on the populations of most fruit flies and Fletcher (1987) noted that 0-30% levels of parasitism are typical. To date there are no records of biological control success for any Bactrocera or Dacus spp. (Wharton, 1989).
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Fruits (inc. pods)||eggs; larvae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
ImpactTop of page B. carambolae is a very serious pests in Malaysia where it attacks such small carambola fruits that bagging (a normally effective control) is quite impractical.
Detection and InspectionTop of page Fruits (locally grown or samples of fruit imports) should be inspected for puncture marks and any associated necrosis. Suspect fruits should be cut open and checked for larvae. Larval identification is difficult, so if time allows, mature larvae should be transferred to saw dust (or similar dry medium) to allow pupariation. Upon emergence, adult flies must be fed with sugar and water for several days to allow hardening and full colour to develop, before they can be identified. Detection is described in the control section under Early Warning Systems.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Many countries, such as the mainland USA, forbid the import of susceptible fruit without strict post-harvest treatment having been applied by the exporter. This may involve fumigation, heat treatment (hot vapour or hot water), cold treatments, insecticidal dipping, or irradiation (Armstrong and Couey, 1989). Irradiation is not accepted in most countries and fumigation is a hazardous operation. Heat treatment tends to reduce the shelf life of most fruits and so the most effective method of regulatory control is preferentially to restrict imports of a given fruit to areas free of fruit fly attack.
Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods
One of the most effective control techniques against fruit flies in general is to wrap fruit, either in newspaper, a paper bag, or in the case of long/thin fruits, a polythene sleeve. This is a simple physical barrier to oviposition but it has to be applied well before the fruit is attacked. Little information is available on the attack time for most fruits but few Bactrocera spp. attack prior to ripening.
Although cover sprays of entire crops are sometimes used, the use of bait sprays is both more economical and more environmentally acceptable. A bait spray consists of a suitable insecticide (e.g. malathion) mixed with a protein bait. Both males and females of fruit flies are attracted to protein sources emanating ammonia, and so insecticides can be applied to just a few spots in an orchard and the flies will be attracted to these spots. The protein most widely used is hydrolysed protein, but some supplies of this are acid hydrolysed and so highly phytotoxic. Smith and Nannan (1988) have developed a system using autolysed protein. In Malaysia this has been developed into a very effective commercial product derived from brewery waste.
The males B. carambolae are attracted to methyl eugenol (4-allyl-1,2-dimethoxybenzene), sometimes in very large numbers. On a small scale many farmers use male suppression as a control technique; however, with flies attracted over a few hundred metres the traps may be responsible for increasing the fly level (at least of males) on a crop as much as for reducing it. However, the technique has been used as an eradication technique (male annihilation), in combination with bait (Bateman, 1982).
Early Warning Systems
Many countries that are free of Bactrocera spp., e.g. the USA (California and Florida) and New Zealand, maintain a grid of methyl eugenol and cue lure traps, at least in high-risk areas (ports and airports) if not around the entire climatically suitable area. The trap used will usually be modelled on the Steiner trap (White and Elson-Harris, 1994).
Monitoring is largely carried out by traps (see Early Warning Systems) set in areas of infestation. However, there is evidence that some fruit flies have different host preferences in different parts of their range and host fruit surveys should also be considered as part of the monitoring process.
ReferencesTop of page
Allwood AJ; Chinajariyawong A; Kritsaneepaiboon S; Drew RAI; Hamacek EL; Hancock DL; Hengsawad C; Jipanin JC; Jirasurat M; Krong CK; Leong CTS; Vijaysegaran S, 1999. Host plant records for fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Southeast Asia. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 47(Supplement 7):1-92; 26 ref.
Armstrong JW; Couey HM, 1989. Control; fruit disinfestation; fumigation, heat and cold. In: Robinson AS, Hooper G, eds. Fruit Flies; their Biology, Natural Enemies and Control. World Crop Pests. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 3(B):411-424.
Baker RT; Cowley JM, 1991. A New Zealand view of quarantine security with special reference to fruit flies, In: Vijaysegaran S, Ibrahim AG, eds. First International Symposium on Fruit Flies in the Tropics, Kuala Lumpur, 1988. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, 396-408.
Bateman MA, 1982. III. Chemical methods for suppression or eradication of fruit fly populations, In: Drew RAI, Hooper GHS, Bateman MA eds. Economic Fruit Flies of the South Pacific Region. 2nd edn. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Department of Primary Industries, 115-128.
Christenson LD; Foote RH, 1960. Biology of fruit flies. Annual Review of Entomology, 5:171-192.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
FAO/IAEA, 2003. Trapping Guidelines for area-wide fruit fly programmes. Vienna, Austria: International Atomic Energy Agency, 47 pp.
Fletcher BS, 1989. Ecology; life history strategies of tephritid fruit flies, In: Robinson AS, Hooper G, eds. Fruit Flies; their Biology, Natural Enemies and Control. World Crop Pests. Amsterdam, Holland: Elsevier, 3(B):195-208.
Fletcher BS, 1989. Movements of tephritid fruit flies. In: Fruit Flies; their Biology, Natural Enemies and Control. World Crop Pests [ed. by Robinson, A. S., Hooper, G.]. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers, 209-219.
Foote RH; Blanc FL; Norrbom AL, 1993. Handbook of the Fruit Flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) of America North of Mexico. Ithaca, USA: Comstock.
IIE, 1994. Bactrocera carambolae Drew & Hancock (Diptera: Tephritidae) (carambola fly). International Institute of Entomology, Distribution Maps of Pests, series A, (546), 1-2. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.
Weldon CW; Schutze MK; Karsten M, 2014. Trapping to monitor tephritid movement: results, best practice, and assessment of alternatives. In: Trapping and the detection, control, and regulation of Tephritid fruit flies: lures, aarea-wide programs, and trade implications [ed. by Shelly T, Epsky N, Jang EB, Reyes-Flores J, Vargas R]. New York, USA: Springer, 175-217.
Wharton RH, 1989. Control; classical biological control of fruit-infesting Tephritidae, In: Robinson AS, Hooper G, eds. Fruit Flies; their Biology, Natural Enemies and Control. World Crop Pests 3(B). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 303-313.
Yong HS, 1994. Host fruit preferences in two sympatric taxa of the Bactrocera dorsalis complex (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae). In: Yong HS, Khoo SG (eds). Current Research on Tropical Fruit Flies and their Management, 1-8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The Working Group on Malaysian Fruit Flies.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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