African Fig Fly, Zaprionus indianus Gupta

I. Introduction:  In September 2012, an additional exotic drosophilid was found to be common in some vineyard blocks.  The African fig fly, or fig fruit fly, Zaprionus indianus is originally from Africa but in recent years has been expanding its range.  It has moved west to Brazil, and east to India.  After an apparently separate New World introduction, it was found in Florida in 2005 and South Carolina in 2007.  When present, concurrent infestation with SWD generally existed.  However in one block, Zaprionus was far more common than SWD.  African fig fly is easily collected at vineyard pomace piles.  At present it is unclear whether fig fruit fly can successfully oviposit in intact grape berries.  Most hosts are attacked when already injured or on the ground.  It has been reported to attack intact figs while still on the plant.  In 2013 it was easily collected at vineyard pomace piles in the Piedmont and Eastern Shore of Virginia.  See the distribution map for Virginia linked here.  An updated map of the US distribution is posted.

II. Hosts: This fly is capable of developing in multiple crops, but may not be able to penetrate uninjured fruit as does spotted wing drosophila.  However, fig fruit fly may outnumber SWD when adults emerge from grapes.  The relationship with SWD is under investigation by Meredith Shrader (Dept. Entomology, Virginia Tech).

III. Description:  This fly is brown in color, with longitudinal white body stripes, thinly bordered by black.  See adult flies in dorsal and oblique view.  The eggs bear resiratory horns, as do other drosophilid eggs.  However, a genus characteristic of Zaprionus is that the egg has four respiratory horns.

IV. Biology:  This species apparently cannot overwinter in Virginia and must recolonize the state from more southern regions each year.  Aspects of its biology in Virginia are still under investigation. In these video clips made by Jamie Wahls (Dept of Entomology, Virginia Tech), an adult can be see forcing its way out of the puparium (note the ptinilum (front part of the face) expanded to force open the puparium), and once emerged, expanding its wings.

V. Injury: African fig fly develops in a variety of fruits, introducing Candida yeast, which acts to speed breakdown of the fruit.  In Brazil, there have been economic infestations in fig, persimmon and a local fruiting tree species, Solanum lycocarpum.

VI. Monitoring: Monitoring methods are under investigation.  While adults appear in apple cider vinegar traps placed for SWD, these may not be the most effective means of sampling for FFF.  Some earlier publications use fermenting banana baits.

VII. Control:  Controls, if needed, will probably be similar to those developed for SWD.

VIII.  Additional reading:

Ramniwas, S., B. Kajla and R. Parkash. 2012. Extreme physiological tolerance leads the wide distribution of Zaprionus indianus (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in temperate world. Acta Entomol. Sin. 55: 1295-1305.

van der Linde, K. 2010. Zaprionus indianus: Species identification and taxonomic position.  Dros. Inf. Serv. 93: 95-98.

van der Linde, K. 2012.  Zaprionus indianus distribution in the United States. Retrieved 25 Nov 2012, from

Updated 18 August 2017
Maintained by: Douglas G. Pfeiffer
Department of Entomology
Virginia Tech
, Virginia
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