Med Fly in Laguna Beach

Subject: Odd fly
Location: Laguna Beach, CA 92651
May 1, 2013 11:50 pm
This fly looks similar to a bathroom fly but is somewhat different. It was crawling on a piece of paper in our living room. I live in Laguna beach California.
Signature: Robert

Med Fly
Med Fly

Dear Robert,
This sure looks like a Mediterranean Fruit Fly or Med Fly, Ceratitis capitata, to us.  See this matching image on BugGuide.  The Med Fly rose to notoriety and became a Southern California icon in the 1980s because of the aerial spraying that occurred in many parts of Los Angeles in an unsuccessful attempt to limit the spread of this invasive exotic species.  According to BugGuide:  “One of the world’s most destructive fruit pests, and the most economically important fruit fly species. Each infestation detected in FL and CA triggered massive eradication and detection effort. In CA, large numbers of sterile males are released and are not uncommon in some places. A female (they have a visible ovipositor on the rear tip of the abdomen) would be a sign of an infestation, and should be reported immediately.”  Your fly has an ovipositor, and we would strongly recommend reporting it to your local authorities.  You can probably contact the Center for Invasive Species at UC Riverside.

Wow, I had never seen one before.
An interesting side note: My 6-year-old grandson, who loves
entomology, caught the fruit fly outside on a plant using a real
insect aspirator. He brought it inside to show me and it got out of
the holding tube.
BTW, I see you live in Mt. Washington. My son and daughter both have
homes in Mt. Washington and they love it. Also, you must be friends
with the entomologist Julian Donahue, who I believe lives there too.
Thanks for identifying this “bug”! I will call the Center for Invasive Species.

Hi again Robert,
It really is a small world and Mount Washington is a gem of a community.  Also I am friends with Julian Donahue and I just saw him last night.

Hello Daniel,
Yes, it certainly is a small world! Please give my regards to Julian
the next time you see him. He knows me as “Robin” as I go by both
“Robert” and “Robin.”
BTW, Nick Nisson, the county entomologist ad agricultural commissioner
of Orange County told me today that the sterile Med Flies that they
released were 50% male and 50% female. So he said not to be concerned
but that if I found the fly (which was inside my living room) to send
it to him for examination.
Very best wishes,

Julian Donahue provides some insight
Small world indeed!
I’ve known Robin Commagère for decades, through The Lepidopterists’ Society.  …
BTW, the sterile medflies released by the agriculture folks usually have spots of a pink dye on them, so that they can be differentiated from non-sterile (and therefore of concern) flies.

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