- 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
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Bactrocera tau Walker
Other Scientific Names
- Bactrocera (Zeugodacus) tau (Walker)
- Bactrocera hageni Hendel
- Bactrocera nubilus
- Chaetodacus tau (Walker)
- Dacus caudatus v. nubilus Hendel, 1912
- Dacus caudatus var. nubilus Hendel
- Dacus hageni de Meijere
- Dacus nubilus Hendel
- Dacus nubilus ssp. femoralis Hendel, 1933
- Dacus tau (Walker)
- Dasyneura tau Walker
- Zeugodacus nubilus (Hendel)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Diptera
- Family: Tephritidae
- Genus: Bactrocera
- Species: Bactrocera tau
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Some names listed as synonyms in taxonomic publications (e.g. Hardy, 1973) are not given above as research by White and Hancock (1997) has shown that these names belong to distinct species. These authors also recognised an undescribed (and very common) species from southern India, which has now been described as B. zahadi Mahmood in a partial revision of the group (Mahmood, 1999) . However, the true B. tau does appear to be the most widespread species in this complex and most data assigned to B. tau almost certainly do refer to this species. An exception is that some records of 'D. nubilus' refer to a species with a trilobed aculeus (Hardy, 1973) although the real D. nubilus has a pointed aculeus (White and Wang, 1992); these records actually belong to B. bezziana (Hering) and possibly another species.
DescriptionTop of page
Head: Pedicel+1st flagellomere not longer than ptilinal suture. Face with a large dark spot in each antennal furrow. Frons - 2-3 pairs frontal setae, 1 pair orbital setae.
Thorax: Predominant colour of scutum fuscous. Postpronotal (=humeral) lobe entirely pale (yellow or orange). Notopleuron yellow. Scutum with lateral postsutural vittae (yellow/orange stripes), which are not tapered and which extend beyond the intra-alar setae. With a medial vitta. Scutellum not partly dark marked. Anepisternal stripe as narrow as notopleural spot. Yellow marking on both anatergite and katatergite. Postpronotal lobe (=humerus) without a seta. Notopleuron with anterior seta. Scutum with anterior supra-alar setae; with prescutellar acrostichal setae. Scutellum with basal as well as apical setae.
Wing: Length 6.1-8.8 mm. Wing with a complete costal band, which may extend below R2+3, but not to R4+5; expanded into a spot at apex which reaches about half way to M. Wing with an anal streak. Cells bc and c not coloured. No transverse markings. Cell bc and c without extensive covering of microtrichia. Cell br (narrowed part) with extensive covering of microtrichia.
Legs: Fore femur yellow / pale, sometimes with a dark preapical spot. Mid and hind femora pale.
Abdomen: Predominant colour orange-brown. Tergites not fused. Abdomen not wasp aisted. Pattern distinct. Tergite 3 with a transverse band. Tergite 4 either with antero-lateral recatngular marks or dark laterally. Medial longitudinal stripe on T3-5. Sternites dark, not yellow.
Terminalia and secondary sexual characters: Male wing without a bulla. Male tergite 3 with a pecten (setal comb) on each side. Male sternite 5 not V-shaped. Surstylus (male) with a long posterior lobe. Wing (male) with a deep indent in posterior margin. Hind tibia (male) with a preapical pad. Aculeus apex pointed.
The egg of B. olae (Gmelin) was described in detail by Margaritis (1985) and that 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 elctron microscope examination). White to yellow-white in colour.
Third instar larva: Larva medium-sized, length 7.5-9.0 mm, width 1.0-1.5 mm.
Head: Stomal sensory organ rounded, with small sensilla; surrounded by 6-9 preoral lobes, those closest to mouth opening appearing similar to small oral ridges; oral ridges with 17-23 long rows of moderately long, bluntly rounded teeth; accessory plates forming numerous, serrated, long and short interlocking rows; mouthhooks large, heavily sclerotised, each with a strong apical tooth.
Thoracic and abdominal segments: Anterior margin of each thoracic segment with an encircling, broad band of spinules forming discontinuous rows. T1 spinules stout, sharply pointed and arranged dorsally and ventrally in small groups or plates, becoming discontinuous rows ventrally; T2 with short stout spinules, arranged in 6-9 discontinuous rows; T3 spinules similar to T2, arranged in 5-7 rows. A1-A8 without spinules dorsally, but with spinules forming creeping welts ventrally. Each creeping welt with small stout spinules arranged in 9-13 rows, with 2-5 rows anteriorly directed, the remainder posteriorly directed. A8 with intermediate areas large and protuberant (in mature larvae, almost linked by a long slightly curved pigmented transverse line), with obvious sensilla; dorsal and lateral areas also large and well defined. Anterior spiracles: 14-16 tubules. Posterior spiracles: Spiracular slits large, about 3.0-3.5 times as long as broad, arranged in a slightly radiating pattern and bordered by a strongly sclerotised rima. Spiracular hairs long, almost as long as spiracular slits, each with a broad trunk and branched in apical third to a half; hairs arranged in 4 large bundles of 14-18 in dorsal and ventral bundles, and 5-9 in each lateral bundle.
Anal area: Lobes large, protuberant, surrounded by 3-6 discontinuous rows of small, sharply pointed spinules. Spinules closest to anal lobes stout, long, curved and sharply pointed.
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.
DistributionTop of page
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.Last updated: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Indonesia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Guizhou||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1998|
|-Zhejiang||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1998|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Himachal Pradesh||Present||Original citation: Pankaj and Sood Amit Nath (2002)|
|-Sabah||Present||Original citation: National Museum of Wales coll|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
In addition to the hosts listed, other host species belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae are Coccinia grandis and Momordica cochinchinensis. There is also a confirmed record on Strychnos nux-vomica.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / internal feeding|
|Fruit / lesions: black or brown|
|Fruit / premature drop|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The following is the typical life-cycle of a Bactrocera sp. Eggs are laid below the skin of the host fruit. These hatch within a day or 2 days and the larvae feed for another week or more. Pupariation is in the soil under the host plant for a week or more but may be delayed for several weeks under cool conditions. Adults occur throughout the year and begin mating after about 2 weeks; data from Christenson and Foote (1960). Adult flight and the transport of infected fruit are the major means of movement and dispersal to previously uninfected areas. Males are attracted to cue lure.
Some specific details are available for B. tau which suggest variation in parameters between hosts (Borah and Dutta, 1996), for example, 10 larvae in Momodica charantia to 40 in Lagenaria siceraria. In Trichosanthes cucumerina development was completed 11 days (up to 16 days in other hosts). Further details were given by Kabir et al. (1997), who noted that mating took place throughout the night and that adult longevity was up to 121 days for males and 191 for females; in Bangladesh populations peaked in September and to a lesser extend April.
[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 et al. (2019) 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
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
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)||arthropods/eggs; arthropods/larvae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||arthropods/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
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Minimum characters to differentiate from all other Bactrocera and Dacus spp. (White and Hancock, 1997): Face with a dark spot in each antennal furrow. Lateral vittae extending anterior to suture and posteriorly to beyond intra-alar setae. Anepisternal stripe as narrow as the coloured part of the notopleural callus. Scutellum yellow, with basal as well as apical setae. No transverse markings on wings. Mid femur entirely pale. Transverse band across tergite 3. Tergite 4 with dark laterally or with antero-lateral dark marks. Sternites dark, not yellow. Aculeus pointed.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
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 to preferentially 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 data 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 of most pest species of Bactrocera are attracted to either cue lure (4-(p-acetoxyphenyl)-2-butanone) or to methyl eugenol (4-allyl-1,2-dimethoxybenzene). Males of B. tau are attracted to cue lure. 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 coutries that are free of Bactrocera spp., e.g. 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 (as above) 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
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Boopathi T, Singh S B, Manju T, Samik Chowdhury, Singh A R, Dutta S K, Dayal V, Behere G T, Ngachan S V, Hazarika S, Rahman S M A, 2017. First report of economic injury to tomato due to Zeugodacus tau (Diptera: Tephritidae): relative abundance and effects of cultivar and season on injury. Florida Entomologist. 100 (1), 63-69. DOI:10.1653/024.100.0111
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David K J, Kumar A R V, Srinivasan Ramani, 2008. Distribution of Bactrocera Macquart (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Kerala with special reference to the Western Ghats. Journal of the Entomological Research Society. 10 (2), 55-69.
Drew R A I, Romig M C, 2013. Tropical fruit flies (Tephritidae: Dacinae) of South-East Asia: Indomalaya to North-West Australasia. [ed. by Drew R A I, Romig M]. Wallingford, UK: CABI. vii + 653 pp. DOI:10.1079/9781780640358.0000
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Hasyim A, Muryati, Istianto M, Kogel W J de, 2007. Male fruit fly, Bactrocera tau (Diptera; Tephritidae) attractants from Elsholtzia pubescens Bth. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences. 6 (1), 181-183. http://www.ansinet.org/ajps
Hasyim A, Muryati, Kogel W J de, 2008. Population fluctuation of adult males of the fruit fly, Bactrocera tau Walker (Diptera: Tephritidae) in passion fruit orchards in relation to abiotic factors and sanitation. Indonesian Journal of Agricultural Science. 9 (1), 29-33.
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Zhang GuoNa, Hu Fei, Dou Wei, Wang JinJun, 2012. Morphology and distribution of sensilla on tarsi and ovipositors of six fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 105 (2), 319-327. DOI:10.1603/AN11132
Zhang HongMei, Pan YaQin, Wei DiGong, Wu JunXiang, 2004. Random amplified polymorphic DNA in four species of fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) distributed commonly in Shaanxi Province, China. Entomotaxonomia. 26 (1), 59-63.
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