Cherry fruit fly

Rhagoletis cingulata


The Eastern American cherry fruit fly(Rhagoletis cingulata) is an important non-native pest of the true fruit fly family (Tephritidae). Somewhat later in the season than the native European cherry fruit fly(Rhagoletis cerasi), this species occurs as a pest on sweet cherry, and possibly also on sour cherry. The larvae (maggots) feeding in the fruit destroy the pulp and make the fruit inedible.


The adults are 4 to 5 mm long and have glassy bright wings with dark bands running through them. The pale yellow dorsal shield is conspicuous on an otherwise shiny black body. The Eastern American Cherry Fruit Fly is distinguishable from the native species based on the details of the wing markings.

The headless and legless larvae (maggots) are white to cream in color and up to 6 mm long.


The biology of the Eastern American cherry fruit fly is essentially the same as that of the native European cherry fruit fly. Females lay eggs singly under the fruit skin. After about three to seven days, the larvae hatch and feed inside the fruit for two to five weeks after which they leave the fruit as adult larvae to pupate in the soil. They overwinter there until the next spring, as only one generation is produced each year. While the native species begins hatching around May, it has been observed for the American species, for example in Germany, that hatching is delayed (about three to four weeks). The adult life span is about one to two months.

Damage symptoms

Infestation by cherry fruit flies can be detected due to soft and rotten pulp inside the fruit, as well as due to the presence of a maggot around the pit.

Host plants

Sweet cherry(Prunus avium) and Japanese plum(Prunus salicina) are considered to be the main host plants for this species. However, the Eastern American cherry fruit fly is also a significant pest of sour cherry(Prunus cerasus) and can develop on other Prunus species.


The dispersal of this species can be passive or active. Active spread occurs through the flight of adults over short distances. However, the most important mode of dispersal is by means of infested fruit (merchandise, travelers' luggage) carried to previously uninfested areas.

The Eastern American cherry fruit fly is native to eastern and southern North America and arrived in Europe a few decades ago. It has been able to establish itself here and more recently, after the first detection for Austria in 2007, has been detected in a number of federal states with low numbers of catches.

Economic importance

So far, only very isolated occurrences of this species have been detected in Austria by means of trap catches. In Germany, on the other hand, damage to sour cherries (>20%) was attributed to infestation by this species several years ago.

Prevention and control

It can be assumed that the measures for prevention and control against the domestic cherry fruit fly will also be effective against this species. The somewhat later appearance of the American species should be noted, which makes, for example, the choice of variety (early varieties are less infested) even more relevant.

Phytosanitary status

Due to the widespread occurrence of this species in Europe, it is no longer classified as a quarantine pest in the EU. An occurrence is therefore not reportable. The EPPO lists it on the A2 list (= pest locally present in EPPO region; regulation recommended).

It should be noted, however, that the Eastern American cherry fruit fly(R. cingulata) can only be distinguished from the Western American cherry fruit fly(R. indifferens), which has not yet occurred in Europe and is considered a Union quarantine pest, by specialists.

Specialized information


We continuously survey the occurrence of this and other fruit fly species as part of the surveys in cooperation with the official plant protection services.


Egartner, A., Zeisner, Z., Hausdorf, H., Blümel, S., 2010. first record of Rhagoletis cingulata (Loew) (Dipt., Tephritidae) in Austria. EPPO Bulletin 40, 158-162.

Last updated: 01.12.2021

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