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Family Tephritidae - Fruit Flies

Tephritidae - Neaspilota like? - Neaspilota Fly on Cherries - Rhagoletis indifferens Eutreta noveboracensis Paracantha Crazy Fruit Fly on Weedy Thistle - Paracantha gentilis - female Small Fly - Urophora quadrifasciata Fruit Fly - Tephritis Fruit fly. - Xanthomyia platyptera
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon ("Acalyptratae")
Superfamily Tephritoidea
Family Tephritidae (Fruit Flies)
Other Common Names
Picture-winged Flies (not recommended, as being more commonly applied to Ulidiidae/Otitidae)
Numbers
ca. 300 spp. in 55 genera in our area(1), >360 spp. in 62 genera in the Nearctic Region, ~4,500 spp. in almost 500 genera worldwide(2)
Overview of our fauna (* –taxa not yet in the guide; classification adapted from(2)):
Family Tephritidae

SUBFAMILY DACINAE

SUBFAMILY TRYPETINAE
Tribe Adramini Euphranta (subgenus Rhacochlaena)
Tribe Carpomyini
Tribe Trypetini

SUBFAMILY TEPHRITINAE
Tribe Dithrycini
Tribe Eutretini *Cryptotreta, Eutreta (subgenera Eutreta, Metatephritis, Setosigena), *Laksyetsa, Paracantha, *Stenopa, Xanthomyia
Tribe Tephritini
Unplaced to group Euaresta, Neotephritis, Xanthaciura
Tribe Terelliini Chaetorellia, Chaetostomella, Neaspilota (subgenera Footerellia, Neaspilota, Neorellia), Terellia (subgenera Cerajocera, Terellia)
Identification
Many species have highly-patterned wings used by males for courtship and may also be defensive(3).
Can be recognized by the structure of the subcosta which bends apically forward at almost a right angle and then fades out. In most species the anal cell has an acute distal projection posteriorly(4).

Tephritidae versus Drosophilidae: A way to distinguish most tephritid fruit flies from most drosophilid "fruit flies" is that the great majority of the tephritids you'll see have a fairly distinct wing pattern, either stripes, splotches or a lot of spots. MOST drosophilids, on the other hand, have a clear wing, or a small number of distinct spots (see Chymomyza for an example.)
There are other distinguishing characters, but this one is a good start.
Most of our lauxaniids also have clear, or uniformly yellowish or brownish wings. Some yellow Homoneura have distinct dark wing spots, and a few species in other genera have an even more distinct pattern, but look for the arrangement of bristles on the head above the eye. (Comment by Terry Wheeler)
Food
Larvae feed on fleshy fruits and vegetables of plants in many families. In the subfamily Tephritinae, most species oviposit in flower heads of various plants (primarily, Asteraceae) and have short, stout larva that live in the ovaries. In the other subfamilies of Tephritidae (as well as in some Tephritinae), there are species that mine or form galls in leaves, stems, and roots.(5)(6)
Remarks
Many spp. are considered commercial pests(6)
Some spp. mimic jumping spiders. The wing-waving apparently deters the approach of jumping spiders, important predators of the flies. Other species have brightly-patterned bodies, and may mimic wasps.(3)
"Spider predation has been intense enough to mold the evolution of prey characteristics: predation by salticids (jumping spiders) has shaped the morphology and behavior of some tephritid flies. Their wing markings resemble the pattern of the legs of jumping spiders; the flies also wave their wings in a fashion that appears to mimic the agonistic behavior of salticids - making them 'proverbial sheep in wolf's clothing' (Greene et al. 1987, Mather & Roitberg 1987)." (D.H. Wise, Spiders in ecological webs)
Print References
Sueyoshi, Masahiro (2005). Comparative Morphology of the Male Terminalia of Tephritidae and other Cyclorrhapha. Isr. J. Entomol. 35:477-496 (PDF)
Internet References
Illustrated glossary of morphology: Very nice resource! Intended for Anastrepha and Toxotrypana, but useful for other tephritid genera as well.