EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 03 - 2019 Num. article: 2019/055

Ceratitis rosa sensu lato is part of a species complex and has been separated into two distinct species C. rosa and C. quilicii

The genus Ceratitis (Diptera: Tephritidae) includes approximately 100 species mainly found in Sub-Saharan Africa and islands of the Western Indian Ocean, some of the Ceratitis species being of regulatory importance. In the EPPO region, both Ceratitis capitata (EPPO A2 List - Mediterranean fruit fly) and C. rosa (EPPO A1 List - Natal fruit fly) are regulated pests. Recent taxonomic studies have shown that C. rosa was part of a species complex, called the ‘Ceratitis FAR complex’. This group initially comprised three polyphagous and morphologically similar species: C. fasciventris, C. anonae and C. rosa, but subsequent studies added another species, Ceratitis quilicii sp. nov. In addition, the existence of 2 distinct populations within C. fasciventris is still being explored. C. quilicii is morphologically very similar to C. rosa. Only the males can be distinguished by minor difference of the mid-tibia (females cannot be morphologically differentiated). In previous literature, C. rosa has often been referred to as R1, the hot type or lowland type, whereas C. quilicii has been referred to as R2, the cold type or highland type.

All four currently accepted species are polyphagous pests with a wide range of wild and cultivated plants (including more than 25 plant families). Their respective host ranges overlap to a great extent, but also include some unique host plants for each fruit fly species. Concerning their geographical range, it is now generally considered that: 

1) C. fasciventris is found mainly in Eastern and Western Africa, sympatrically with C. anonae, and 

2) C. rosa and C. quilicii occur in Eastern and Southern Africa, overlapping with each other, and partially with C. fasciventris in Kenya and Tanzania.

These taxonomic changes imply that many geographical and host plant records attributed to C. rosa prior to 2016 are now invalid, as they may now correspond to either C. quilicii or C. fasciventris, or to both of them. In addition, the regulatory status of individual members of this complex might need to be examined in the light of these new developments (for the moment, only C. rosa is included on the EPPO Lists). Recent studies have attempted to predict the distribution of C. rosa and C. quilicii using temperature-dependent phenology models. Results for Southern Europe showed that C. quilicii had a broader potential range of suitable areas (for its possible establishment) than C. rosa.

The geographical distributions and lists of host plants below have been extracted from the online database ‘True Fruit Flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) of the Afrotropical Region’, but work is ongoing to study the distribution and host range of all species belonging to the species complex.

Ceratitis anonae

- Host plants

Annona muricata, Annona senegalensis, Areca triandra, Citrus paradisi, Citrus sinensis, Coffea canephora, Eugenia uniflora, Mangifera indica, Murraya sp., Nephelium lappaceum, Persea americana, Psidium guajava, Rollinia mucosa, Terminalia catappa, Theobroma cacao, Vitellaria paradoxa, Ziziphus jujuba, as well as other wild fruiting species.

- Distribution

Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Congo (Democratic republic of the), Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda.

Ceratitis fasciventris

- Host plants

Annona senegalensis, Casimiroa edulis, Citrus limon, Citrus reticulata, Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora, Dovyalis caffra, Eriobotrya japonica, Ficus sp., Harpephyllum caffrum, Mangifera indica, Passiflora sp., Persea Americana, Prunus persica, Psidium guajava, Syzygium jambos, Theobroma cacao, Ziziphus jujube, as well as other wild fruiting species.

- Distribution

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Congo (Democratic republic of the), Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

Ceratitis quilicii sp. nov.

- Host plants

Acca sellowiana, Carica papaya, Carissa macrocarpa, Coffea arabica, Cydonia oblonga, Dovyalis caffra, Eriobotrya japonica, Ficus carica, Malus domestica, Persea americana, Prunus persica, Psidium cattleyanum, Psidium guajava, Pyrus communis, Rubus sp., Strychnos spinosa, Syzygium jambos, as well as other wild fruiting species.

- Distribution

Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Reunion, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.

Ceratitis rosa

- Host plants

Annona cherimola, Annona muricata, Annona senegalensis, Citrus sp., Eriobotrya japonica, Gloriosa sp., Prunus persica, Psidium guajava, as well as other wild fruiting species. 

- Distribution

Africa: Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania.


De Meyer M, Delatte H, Ekesi S, Jordaens K, Kalinová B, Manrakhan A, Mwatawala M, Steck G, Van Cann J, Vaníčková L, Břízová R, Virgilio M (2015) An integrative approach to unravel the Ceratitis FAR (Diptera, Tephritidae) cryptic species complex: a review. ZooKeys 540, 405-427. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.540.10046

De Meyer M, Mwatawala M, Copeland RS, Virgilio M (2016) Description of new Ceratitis species (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Africa, or how morphological and DNA data are complementary in discovering unknown species and matching sexes. European Journal of Taxonomy 233, 1-23.


True Fruit Flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) of the Afrotropical Region.

- Ceratitis anonae. Specimens. http://projects.bebif.be/fruitfly/taxoninfo.html?id=56

- Ceratitis fasciventris. Specimens. http://projects.bebif.be/fruitfly/taxoninfo.html?id=63

- Ceratitis quilicii. Specimens. http://projects.bebif.be/fruitfly/taxoninfo.html?id=434

- Ceratitis rosa. Specimens.

Tanga CM, Khamis FM, Tonnang HEZ, Rwomushana I, Mosomtai G, Mohamed SA, Ekesi S (2018) Risk assessment and spread of the potentially invasive Ceratitis rosa Karsch and Ceratitis quilicii De Meyer, Mwatawala & Virgilio sp. nov. using life-cycle simulation models: implications for phytosanitary measures and management. PloS ONE 13(1), e0189138. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189138

Personal communication with EFSA (2018-12).