Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2004
Publication Date: December 1, 2004
Citation: Thomas, D.B. 2004. Chile pepper as a host for the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Diptera: Tephritidae). Florida Entomologist. 87(4):603-608.
Interpretive Summary: This is the first report of hot chile peppers infested with maggots of the Mexican fruit fly. Laboratory tests demonstrated that the hottest peppers were attacked by females that would lay their eggs in the pods, even when given a choice between chiles and oranges. Moreover, the maggots were found to feed and grow to full size in hot chiles. Recent shipments of maggot infested manzano chile peppers from Mexico, stopped at our border, are the first instance of such infestations occurring in nature, and the first indication that the importation of chiles poses a risk of entry of this invasive insect pest. Reasons why such instances are rare are discussed.
Hot chile peppers were not previously considered to be hosts for the Mexican fruit fly. Laboratory tests demonstrate that cultivars with high levels of capcaicinoids are acceptable to ovipositing females, even when given a choice between peppers and citrus, and are adequate for larval development. Recent intercepts of manzano peppers infested with larvae are the first indication that such infestations occur in nature and their import is a potential risk for entry by this invasive tephritid species. Reasons for the low incidence of natural infestations in this commodity are discussed.