Medfly (Mediterranean fruit fly)

Ceratitis capitata

This fruit fly calls sub-Saharan Africa home. But it has spread to many parts of the world. Its name comes from its invasion of the Mediterranean, where it's a very serious pest.

About the medfly

In 1907, we found the medfly in Napier and Blenheim. We managed to destroy those populations. We then introduced stricter biosecurity rules for all fruit imports.

It wasn't found again until 1995, when we caught a medfly in one of our surveillance traps in Auckland. We successfully eradicated it then too.

Global distribution of medfly

Map showing world distribution of medfly

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

The adult medfly lays its eggs in fruit. When the maggots hatch they eat the fruit, causing it to rot.

A medfly maggot feeding on fruit. surface
A medfly maggot feeding on the surface of fruit.

The maggots will eat over 500 different types of fruit and vegetables. Their favourites are apples, pears, stonefruit, citrus, and tomatoes.

This fruit fly is hardier than many other species of fruit fly. As it can withstand the cold better, it could establish in more places within New Zealand.

How it could get here

Medfly could only get to New Zealand in fruit infested with eggs or maggots. MPI has strict measures in place to limit the chances of medfly making it through the border.

But we need you to be vigilant, too. Whenever travelling to New Zealand, always declare any food or fruit in your luggage. If you fail to do so, you could face a $400 fine.

How to identify medfly

The adult flies are:

  • 3.5mm to 5mm (slightly smaller than a house fly)
  • yellowish with a brown tinge
  • the wings have yellow, brown, and black spots and bands.

A medfly's wings are distinctive from any other fruit fly.

Adult medfly on leaf surface with bands of colour
Medfly wings have distinctive yellow, brown, and black spots and bands.

If you think you've found a medfly


Note: This information is a summary of the medfly's global distribution and potential impacts to New Zealand.

Last reviewed: