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The Mediterranean fruit fly: Controlling in Pome Fruit trees in Integrated Production

Lucía Adriana Escudero - Colomar

IRTA. Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology. Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Food and the Environment. Government of Catalonia

The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), is a pest found worldwide that can cause damage to numerous fruit crops. Due to their population dynamics in Spain, the damage to pome fruit trees can be very extensive, especially from August onwards.

In north-eastern Spain, which accounts for over 40% of production from this type of fruit tree, C. capitata has only one population peak.

The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), is a pest found worldwide that can cause damage to numerous fruit crops. Due to their population dynamics in Spain, the damage to pome fruit trees can be very extensive, especially from August onwards.

In north-eastern Spain, which accounts for over 40% of production from this type of fruit tree, C. capitata has only one population peak. In general, no catches of adults are recorded during the winter, and the first adults of the year begin to appear in monitoring traps in late May or June. From then on, depending on climatic conditions, the population increases gradually to its peak in September or October, when many appleand several pear varieties are harvested. Therefore, to keep populations under control, it is advisable to implement control measures when the fruits that require protection are still small.

A variety of control methods can be used, either alone or in combination. Most are aimed at the insect in its adult state. Under Directive 91/414/EEC, chemical control with insecticides, which used to be the most common method, is now restricted to a few active substances authorised for this pest on pome fruit trees, predominantly  pyrethroids. Repeated use of these may well lead to resistant populations, as well as harming natural enemies that control other pests targeting these crops. Therefore, chemical control is currently used as a supplement to other methods to control this pest on pome fruit trees. In apple and pear trees, mass trapping and attract and kill have been used successfully to control adults of the Mediterranean fly. Both systems consist of placing various units around the field to attract the females and males of the species and bring them into contact with an insecticide.

In mass trapping, the flies remain inside the bait-trap but in attract and kill they are not held there. Both systems work by harnessing the attractive power of the bait. This means that as better they compete with the fruit by the attraction of the insect, the greater the chances of removing adult flies from the field. Another system is chemical sterilisation, which is based on the sterilising properties of the insecticide lufenuron when ingested by adult flies.

Other methods such as the sterile insect technique (radiation or SIT) and biological control, which are used on other crops, have not been widely used on pome fruit trees in north-eastern Spain.

New control methods are currently being developed for use both in the field and during post-harvest. Notable examples of the former include microorganisms, botanical insecticides, new insecticide formulations and genetic sterilisation methods. Methods being studied to control the pest at the post-harvest stage focus on eliminating any larvae still in the fruit, using high and/or low temperatures, artificial vision, ionising radiation and modified atmospheres.

In the near future, it will be possible to incorporate many of these new techniques into an integrated pest management programme for pome fruit trees, either alone or in conjunction with existing methods.

Most field methods must be supplemented by other measures to remove and control other sources of infection and/or spread of the pest. Destroying the fruit left in the field after harvesting has proven to reduce by over 50% the appearance of flies that could cause damage in neighbouring fields and continue to reproduce, thereby increasing population levels. Systematic application of this measure over large areas and for several years has proven to be highly effective in Catalonia, and has underscored the importance of including this measure in any integrated fruit fly management programme for pome fruit trees.

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In accordance with the Organic Law on the Protection of Personal Data 15/1999, of 13 December, Promotora de Exportaciones Catalanas SA (hereinafter PRODECA), whose address is Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 620, principal, 08007 Barcelona, with tax reg. no. NIF A58241316, declares that the images contained on the website www.smartfruitcongress.cat are included in a file belonging to PRODECA. The purpose of this file is the promotion, via its website, of the activities conducted by PRODECA – SmartfFruit IPM International Congress.

PRODECA guarantees that you may, at any time, exercise your right to access, rectify, cancel or oppose by writing to the aforesaid postal address, using the reference "PROTECCIÓN DE DATOS - SMARTFRUIT", or to the email address smartfruitcongress@smartfruitcongress.cat.

Specifically, to correctly exercise these rights you must clearly provide the following items in that communication:
- Name, surname(s) and photocopy of National Identity Document or Passport.
- Statement of the purpose of the request.
- Address for notification purposes.
PRODECA also declares that it reserves the right to delete from its website any content that it considers violates current and applicable legislation.

D’acord amb l’article 17.1 de la Llei 19/2014, la ©Generalitat de Catalunya permet la reutilització dels continguts i de les dades sempre que se'n citi la font i la data d'actualització i que no es desnaturalitzi la informació (article 8 de la Llei 37/2007) i també que no es contradigui amb una llicència específica.