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Family Tephritidae - Fruit Flies

Papaya Fruit Flies - Toxotrypana curvicauda - male - female Fruit Fly - Paracantha Fly 5 - Strauzia Rhubarb Fly  - Rhagoletis pomonella - female Eutreta noveboracensis? - Eutreta Signal fly on brittlebush - Trupanea nigricornis Parastenopa limata - male Parastenopa limata - female
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)
Explanation of Names
Tephritidae Newman 1834
>360 spp. in 62 genera in the Nearctic Region, >4,700 spp. in almost 500 genera worldwide(1)(2)
Overview of our fauna (* –taxa not yet in the guide; classification adapted from(1)):
Family Tephritidae


Tribe Adramini Euphranta (subgenus Rhacochlaena)
Tribe Carpomyini
Tribe Trypetini

Tribe Dithrycini
Tribe Eutretini Cryptotreta · Eutreta (subgenn. Eutreta · Metatephritis · Setosigena) · Paracantha · *Parafreutreta · Stenopa · Xanthomyia
Tribe Tephritini
Unplaced to group Euaresta · Neotephritis · Xanthaciura
Tribe Terelliini Chaetorellia · Chaetostomella · Neaspilota (subgenn. Footerellia · Neaspilota · Neorellia) · Terellia (subgenn. Cerajocera · Terellia)
Unplaced to tribe Acinia
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 vs 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)
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)
Life Cycle
Males and females meet, court, and mat on the surface of a walnut husk. The maggots that hatch gnaw through the husk with their sharp mouth hooks until it almost disintegrates. They then crawl out and burrow into the soil.(7)
Overwinter as larvae in the soil.(7)
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'."(8)
Print References
Wasbauer M.S. (1972) An annotated host catalog of the fruit flies of America north of Mexico (Diptera: Tephritidae). Occasional papers no. 19, Bureau of Entomology, Calif. Dept. Agric., Sacramento, CA.
Internet References