Help me ID this insect larvae!

ehitsNovember 24, 2013

I noticed one of my oranges was "oranger" than the rest. I went to take a look and it fell off in my hand. I barely touched it. Upon closer inspection, I noticed these guys:



What are they? Any major concerns?

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

You need to let us know where you live in the world - insects are endemic to certain areas. I suspect, however, you are in Florida or the gulf states? Hopefully Rhizo will weigh in, as she is our resident "entomologist" :-) But, looks to me like it could beMediterranean Fruit Fly larvae (Medfly), and if so, yes, this IS a big problem. I would contact your local ag agent right away for a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: University of FL: Medfly

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 9:37AM
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ehits

Patty, I am in Phoenix. I will check out that link too, thanks.

Eric

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 1:17PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Okay, definitely then call your ag agent on this. That would be rather alarming to have Medfly issues in your area.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 3:56PM
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johnmerr(11)

Absolutely sound advice, Patty; although it could be any of a number of fruit fly larvae. It looks like the fruit was damaged by something which would allow fruit flies to lay eggs inside.
Most important, don't throw it away; put it in a ziplock bag or a jar with a tight lid. I think the only way to know for sure is to allow the larvae to hatch; but I'm not an entomologist, or very knowledgeable about this.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 4:24PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

True, John, and John has an excellent point - put the fruit into a zip lock bag. It will be the adult that emerges, that will help your ag agent to ID the insect.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 4:56PM
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johnmerr(11)

ehits,

If you find out what it is, please come back here and tell us; it is how we all learn.

John

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 5:40PM
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ehits

I will. Unfortunately I tossed the orange right after cutting it open. I'll inspect my others and see if any others are ruined.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 10:06PM
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johnmerr(11)

You have made the classical error... see a worm and toss the fruit; the result is the worm hatches and you have a new population. Any chance you can resurrect the fruit from the trash? It is sooooo important.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:07AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

The page for the Maricopa County Extension Service office is here:
http://extension.arizona.edu/maricopa

Contact them, even if you don't find the damaged orange or others with the same damage.
Show them your pictures. They're good examples of the damage and the critters.

Then, as was suggested earlier, let us know what you learn about the larvae, invasive or not.

Here is a link that might be useful: Maricopa Co.Extension Service office

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 1:47AM
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ehits

Here is the reply I got:
Eric,
Based on the images you have posted, this does not appear to be a Tephritidae larva (the insect family that most exotic fruit flies, including the Med Fly, belong to). However we would definitely like to take a closer look at it to make sure. Please contact me so that I can make arrangements to pick up the larva, or if they are no longer available, maybe we can make arrangements to place an exotic fruit fly trap in your yard just to make sure. My telephone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. I will be available today, Friday and all next week.

I called him and we plan to place a trap next week.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 5:49PM
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ehits

Oh and John, I shredded the fruit in the garbage disposal with lots of hot and soapy water. I am new to this! I looked at the other fruits and they appear to be ok.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 5:55PM
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johnmerr(11)

Good job. If the traps catch any interesting species, please let us know with a follow-up; we are all hear to learn
FYI, I did not initially think Medfly; because oranges are not one of its favorites; but it is always safe to err on the side of caution.
John

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 7:44PM
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ehits

So I got a response. Turns out everything is ok. Read the response from the dept of ag below:

I sent one our guys by your house the other day and they did an inspection of your tree, but did not find anything of concern. Based on the size of the tree, he determined that one of our traps was probably not necessary. We did find a larger tree around the block from you and one will be going in there soon.
We did learn a little more from your pictures though. Based on the size of a piece of fruit collected off of the ground at your residence, our entomologist was able to come up with an approximate size of the larva from your photographs and he believes that the images you took are of fly larvae in the Ulidiiae (formerly Otitidae) family. A common fly larvae found on damaged or decaying fruit. We also routinely find these flies in our traps throughout Arizona. Here is a link with more images: http://www.padil.gov.au/maf-border/Pest/Main/140616/33211

The other images that you sent me the other day are of another one of our natives called the Smoketree Sharpshooter (Homalodisca liturata). More images: http://bugguide.net/node/view/68198
This insect is often confused with the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (Homalodisca coagulata or Homalodisca vitripennis) which is considered invasive in Arizona but occurs frequently in southern California. http://bugguide.net/node/view/825013
You can readily tell the difference between these two by looking at the head. There are distinct yellow colored lines on a Smoketree Sharpshooter and dots on a Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS). GWSS is generally larger also.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 4:35PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Thanks for the update. It helps us all learn more.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 4:56PM
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johnmerr(11)

I say again, THANKS; it is only through such follow ups that we all get a little "smarter" every day.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 6:23PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

I echo both Jean and John's comments - thanks so much for providing all the feedback. It helps us all to become more educated and responsible dooryard orchardists. And in John's case, commercial orchardists :-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 10:26PM
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