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About Fruit Fly ID Australia

Over 4,000 species of fruit flies (Family: Tephritidae) occur globally, with as many of 350 of these species being of economic importance. With a combined host range which includes nearly every fruit and fruiting vegetable, fruit flies are recognised as one of the world’s most destructive and economically important horticultural pests.

While numerous fruit fly species are recorded from Australia, only a few of these have economic impact. Two species are the focus of pest control programs within Australia, the Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) which is native to Australia, and the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) which was introduced in the 1890s.

Beyond Australia’s borders there are a range of highly damaging fruit fly species that post a significant risk. Species like the Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) occur in countries immediately to the north of Australia and are the subject of ongoing surveillance programs. Maintaining Australia’s freedom from this pest and other exotic fruit flies is important for the sustainability of Australia’s horticultural industries.

As many fruit flies are similar in appearance, being able to distinguish established species from exotic species, and pests from non-pests is an important part of a robust biosecurity system. In the case of a suspected incursion, rapid diagnosis is particularly important and would assist in containing and eradicating the populations before they establish.

This website, Fruit Fly Identification Australia, is the product of the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC) project Next Generation National Fruit Fly Diagnostics and Handbook PBCRC2147.

The project team included:

  • Mark Schutze, Matt Krosch, Jacinta McMahon and Francesca Strutt (Queensland University of Technology)
  • Jane Royer (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Nicholas Woods and Melanie Bottrill (Plant Health Australia)
  • Stephen Cameron (Purdue University)
  • Bill Woods (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)

This website includes high-resolution diagnostic images and links to downloadable high-resolution versions; species pages detailing information about all high priority target pests and non-pest close relatives, including the non-tephritid fruit infesting Drosophila suzukii (spotted-wing Drosophila); a 3D interactive fruit fly as part of a new glossary of morphological terms; supplementary information regarding newly generated molecular diagnostic tools and applications; and a completely new and fully illustrated online multi-access Lucid® key to 65 species of Dacini including all high priority target taxa and readily confused non-pest Australian species.

The Australian Handbook for the Identification of Fruit Flies (Version 3.1) is also a product of the PBCRC project Next Generation National Fruit Fly Diagnostics and Handbook. The handbook is a compilation of diagnostic information for 65 fruit fly species, most of which are exotic to Australia. The handbook is intended to facilitate rapid diagnosis of fruit fly species and be a comprehensive guide for Australian diagnosticians and field officers involved in maintaining, supporting and enhancing Australia’s biosecurity system.


Fruit Fly Identification Australia has been made possible through consultation with and input from the following fruit fly entomologists, scientists, academics and diagnosticians.

Mark Schutze

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland

Jane Royer

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland

Matt Krosch

Queensland University of Technology

Jacinta McMahon

Queensland University of Technology

Francesca Strutt

Queensland University of Technology

Nicholas Woods

Plant Health Australia

Melanie Bottrill

Plant Health Australia

Stephen Cameron

Purdue University

Bill Woods

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA

Ian Lacey

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA

Mark Blacket

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria

Marc De Meyer

Department of Biology, Royal Museum for Central Africa

Allen Norrbom

Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture

Gary Steck

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Bernie Dominiak

Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales

Dongmei Li

Ministry for Primary Industries New Zealand

Craig Hull

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Reference collections

Collection Location
Queensland Primary Industries Insect Collection, DAF Biosecurity Queensland, DAF Ecosciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park Brisbane QLD 4102 Australia
NAQS Insect Collection Airport Business Park, Cairns Airport Building 114, Catalina Cresent, Cairns QLD 4870 Australia
Victorian Agricultural Insect Collection, DEDJTR Vic AgriBio Building, DEDJTR Bundoora Campus, 5 Ring Road, Bundoora, Victoria, 3083 Australia
Australian National Insect Collection CSIRO, Clunies Ross Street, Black Mountain ACT 2601 Australia
Orange Agricultural Institute NSW Department of Primary Industries, 1447 Forest Road, Orange, NSW, 2800 Australia
The Northern Territory Economic Insect Reference Collection Department of Resources, Primary Industry, Berrimah Farm, Makagon Road, Berrimah NT, 0828 Australia
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, NRETAS Conacher Street, Fannie Bay, Darwin NT 0820 Australia

Printed and electronic resources

Morphological keys

In practice in Australia the four paper keys that are most commonly used are:

  • Drew, R.A.I. (1989). The tropical fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae: Dacinae) of the Australian and Oceanian regions. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 26: 1-521.
  • Drew, R.A.I. and Hancock, D.L. (1994). The Bactrocera dorsalis complex of fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae: Dacinae) in Asia. Bulletin of Entomological Research. Supplementary Series 2: 1-68.
  • Drew, R. A., and Romig, M. C. (2013). Tropical Fruit Flies (Tephritidae Dacinae) of South-East Asia: Indomalaya to North-West Australasia. CABI, Wallingford.
  • Drew, R. A., & Romig, M. C. (2016). Keys to the tropical fruit flies (Tephritidae: Dacinae) of South-East Asia: Indomalaya to North-West Australasia. CABI.
  • White, I.M. and Elson-Harris, M.M. (1992). Fruit Flies of Economic Significance: Their Identification and Bionomics. CAB International. Oxon, UK. 601 p.

Other paper-based keys include:

Drew, R.A.I. and Raghu, S. (2002). The fruit fly fauna (Diptera: Tephritidae: Dacinae) of the rainforest habitat of the Western Ghats, India. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 50, 327-352.

Drew, R. A., and Romig, M. C. (2013). Tropical Fruit Flies (Tephritidae Dacinae) of South-East Asia: Indomalaya to North-West Australasia. CABI, Wallingford.

Drew, R.A.I., Hancock, D.L. and White, I.M. (1998). Revision of the tropical fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae: Dacinae) of South-east Asia. II. Dacus Fabricius. Invertebrate Taxonomy, 12, 567-654.

Drew, R.A.I. and Romig, M.C. (2001). The fruit fly fauna (Diptera: Tephritidae: Dacinae) of Bougainville, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Australian Journal of Entomology, 40, 113-150.

Drew, R.A.I., Hooper, G.H.S. and Bateman, M.A. (1982). Economic fruit flies of the South Pacific region. Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane, Queensland. 139 pp.

White, I.M. and Elson-Harris, M.M. (1992). Fruit Flies of Economic Significance: Their Identification and Bionomics. CAB International. Oxon, UK. 601 p.

Rohani, I. (1987). Identification of larvae of common fruit fly pest species in West Malaysia. Journal of Plant Protection in the Tropics, 4 (2), 135-137.

Hardy, E.D. (1986). Fruit flies of the subtribe Acanthonevrina of Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Bismarck and Solomon Islands (Diptera: Tephritidae: Trypetinae: Acanthonevrina). Pacific Insect Monographs, No. 42. Honolulu, Hawaii. 191 p.

Hardy, E.D. (1974). The fruit flies of the Philippines (Diptera – Tephritidae). Pacific Insect Monographs, No. 32. Honolulu, Hawaii. 266 p.

Significant information on the larvae of many Australian fruit flies, including ones not of economic importance but that might turn up during sampling, was given in the PhD thesis of Dr Marlene Elson Harris lodged at the University of Queensland.

Electronic keys available include:

White, I.M. and Hancock, D.L. (2003). Fauna Malesiana [electronic key to fruit flies]. ISBN 9075000359.

White, I.M. and Hancock, D.L. (1997). Indo-Australasian Dacini Fruit Flies (CABIKEY) International Institute of Entomology, London. CD-ROM.

Interactive keys are also available on:

Electronic resources

The Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD)
BOLD is an online workbench and database that supports the assembly and use of DNA barcode data. It is a collaborative hub for the scientific community and a public resource for citizens at large.

ANIC Anatomical atlas of flies
Great for illustrations of every feature of acalyptrate flies.

Australian Pest and Diseases Image Library (PaDIL)
Contains species information as well as photos for a number of fruit fly species (endemic and exotic).

NSW Government fruit fly resource
List of fruit fly species found in New South Wales or believed to be present there, with links to summary information on each and key.

South Pacific fruit fly website
Contains profiles of all species found in the South Pacific.

Featured Creatures
Contains profiles for a limited number of fruit fly species.

The Australian Plant Pest Database (APPD)
A national, online database of pests and diseases of Australia’s economically important plants.

Atlas of Living Australia (ALA)
A collaborative, national project that aggregates biodiversity data from multiple sources and makes it freely available and usable online.