Ceratitis capitata is a serious pest to many crops. Damage to crops caused by C. capitata results from:
Larval feeding in fruits is the most damaging. Mature, attacked fruits may develop a water soaked appearance. Young fruits become distorted and usually drop. The larval tunnels provide entry points for bacteria and fungi that cause the fruit to rot. These maggots also attack young seedlings, succulent taproots, and stems and buds of host plants.
- Oviposition in fruit and soft tissues of vegetative parts of certain plants
- Feeding by the larvae
- Decomposition of plant tissue by invading secondary microorganisms.
Trapping for detection of populations; excluding populations by using foliage baits and chemical sprays and release of male sterile medflies to reduce populations require a great deal of resources and can have significant economic implications. Medflies are serious quarantine pests that also affect global trade. The presence of medflies often requires host crops to undergo quarantine treatments or other disinfestation procedure of certification of fly-free areas. The costs of such activities and phytosanitary regulatory compliance can be significant.
Cohen & Yuval (2000) point out that “C. capitata is polyphagous and, as such, uses the various hosts in its environment as stepping stones, moving from one to another as fruit mature throughout the season.” This gives Medfly the ability to destroy an area’s production of many fruits, and means that damage is not limited to just one fruit species, while also providing medflies with refuges from control efforts, serving as a source of reinfestation to surrounding private or commercial plots.
“Under International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Standards, C. capitata is considered to be a pest that is ‘transient, actionable, and under eradication’ in the United States’ (NAPPO, 2008). All non-European Tephritidae, including Ceratitis capitata, are regulated as quarantine pests by the European Union, and fruit being imported into Europe must be free of all life-stages of this pest (Rossler & Chen, 1994).