EPPO Alert ListAtherigona orientalis (Diptera: Muscidae)

-  Pepper fruit fly -



A. orientalis (Diptera: Muscidae) is a pantropical species. In the majority of its range, it is mostly living on decaying plant material, faeces and carrion, but is also recorded as a primary plant pest in some countries. It was recently found in a few locations on crops in the EPPO region (Greece - EPPO RS 2023/229) and has been intercepted at import (RS 2023/082). The EPPO Secretariat considered that A. orientalis could usefully be added to the EPPO Alert List.



A. orientalis is a cosmopolitan pantropical species, but it has been introduced in countries outside of its range, e.g. Australia, Republic of Korea, USA, and recently countries in the EPPO region. It should be noted that it has only been reported as a plant pest in a limited number of countries (e.g. Egypt, Greece, India, Iraq, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Nigeria).

EPPO Region: Cyprus, France (mainland), Greece (Kriti), Israel, Spain (mainland, Islas Canárias), Türkiye.

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Saint Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei Darussalam, China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang), Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, India (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal), Indonesia (Irian Jaya, Java, Sumatra), Iraq, Israel, Japan (Ryukyu Archipelago), Korea Republic, Lebanon, Malaysia (Sabah, West), Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

North America: Mexico, USA (California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Texas).

Central America and Caribbean: Barbados, Bermuda, Dominica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico, St Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Virgin Islands (British).

South America: Argentina, Brazil (Goias, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo), Chile (Easter Island), Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela.

Oceania: Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland), Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu.

















Atherigona orientalis adult on pepper fruit
Courtesy: Roditakis Emmanouil (Entomology Lab)


On which plants

A. orientalis is mainly a saprophagous species, typically found in damaged plant material, including fruits. It may also develop in faeces, and carrion. Recently it was also recorded as a primary pest of certain crops, in particular in pepper (Capsicum spp.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) but it may have a wider range as it has been recorded associated with plants and fruits of at least 25 families.



On plants, A. orientalis lays eggs on or under the calyx of the fruits, or in cracks on the surface of fruits (ripe or rotten). Eggs hatch after 1 day and larvae enter fruits, causing damage to the internal tissues. There are 3 larval stages. Pupation occurs in infested fruits or in the soil. The life cycle takes between 18 to 30 days, depending on temperature and humidity. Adults are small yellowish-grey flies with a body length of about 4 mm.


Damage on pepper fruit – Courtesy: Roditakis Emmanouil (Entomology Lab)



Adults can fly but there is no information on natural spread distances. Over long distances, the pest can be transported on its host plants, in particular fruits and vegetables.



Fruit and vegetables, plants for planting, soil? A. orientalis has been intercepted several times in consignments of fruits, vegetables and plants for planting from tropical countries.


Possible risks

A. orientalis is a highly polyphagous species. It can be a primary pest of capsicum and tomato which are important crops in the EPPO region, as well as other crops. Considering its current range, this fly could probably establish outdoors in the Mediterranean part of the EPPO region, and indoors in the rest of the region. In addition to its potential phytosanitary impact, A. orientalis has also a sanitary importance as it may transmit faecal pathogens and filth-borne diseases.



Al-Fayyadh MJ (2020) Diagnostic of pepper fruit fly Atherigona orientalis (Schiner)(Insecta: Diptera: Muscidae) on greenhouse crops from Thi-Qar Province (South of Iraq). Plant Archives 20(sup 1), 2537-2538.

Anooj SS, Kalia V, Ganiger PC, Krishna GK (2019) A note on Atherigona orientalis Schiner infesting tomato in India. Indian journal of Entomology 81(4), 900-903.

CABI (2023) Data Sheet on Atherigona orientalis (pepper fruit fly) available online https://doi.org/10.1079/cabicompendium.7731

Cabrera-Cánoves P, Pujade-Villar J, Pont AC (2019) The first record of the pantropical filth fly Atherigona orientalis Schiner from mainland Europe and another record of Synthesiomyia nudiseta (van der Wulp) from Spain (Diptera: Muscidae). Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 155(4), 277-280.

Hibbard KL, Overholt WA, Cuda JP (2012) Pepper fruit fly Atherigona orientalis (Schiffner)(Insecta: Diptera: Muscidae). IFAS Extension. University of Florida EENY 5391. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/FRUIT/TROPICAL/pepper_fruit_fly

JKI (2022) Express-PRA zu Atherigona orientalis  – Beanstandung. Available at https://pra.eppo.int/pra/0b5ddc83-0dd3-46b2-992e-1e360f6766e9

Ouma LO, Muthomi JW, Kimenju JW, Beesigamukama D, Subramanian S, Khamis FM, Tanga CM (2023) Occurrence and management of two emerging soil-dwelling pests ravaging cabbage and onions in Kenya. Scientific Reports 13(1), 18975. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-46190-0

Roditakis E, Kremi K, Mylona K, Georgousis V, Avtzis DN, Simoglou KB (2023) First report of the pepper fruit fly Atherigona orientalis (Schiner 1968)(Diptera: Muscidae) infesting commercial pepper crops in Greece. Insects 14(4), 393. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects14040393

Suh SJ, Kwon YJ (2016) First finding of a quarantine pest, Atherigona (Acritochaeta) orientalis Schiner (Diptera: Muscidae), in Korea. Entomological Research 46(3), 185-189.


EPPO RS 2023/245