The black fig fly is a new invasive species recently found in Southern California. It has been found in fig orchards in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties. This small insect attacks only figs and prefers unripe or unpollinated fruit. The adult female lays eggs inside the fig (Figure 1). The larvae that hatch inside the fig damage the fruit by feeding on it (Figure 2). The larvae will make their way out of the fruit, drop to the soil and pupate. Some may pupate inside the fig.
Figure 2. Damage inside a fig caused by the larva of the black fig fly.
What can you do?
To prevent the spread of this pest, don't move figs out of the counties known to have the black fig fly. If you live in one of the counties listed above and have a fig tree, check your fruit for signs of activity such as small holes (Figure 3) or damage. There are no chemical control options currently available so anyone growing figs must rely on sanitation. Make sure to remove and destroy any fruit infested with the black fig fly.
Figure 3. A small hole in the skin of a fig caused by the black fig fly.
If you find infested figs or suspect that black fig flies may be attacking figs in your yard, please contact your local University of California Cooperative Extension office. You can also report this pest to the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Pest Hotline: 1-800-491-1899 or www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/reportapest/. Visit our website for more information about this pest.
[Original article published in the Fall 2021 issue of the Home & Garden Pest Newsletter]