Olive Fly

Bactrocera oleae, Olive fly

The olive fruit fly is a serious economic pest of olive groves. The fruit fly causes damage during feeding and oviposition.

The females utilise a “stinger” to deposit eggs on the surface of the fruit, subsequent damage can result in fruit drop and direct destruction of fruits due to secondary infection. B. oleae is found in southern Europe, North Africa, Middle East and North America.


Adult flies are 4-5mm with a small antenna, red eyes and yellow/ white spots on both sides of the thorax dark brown.

They have clear wings with a dark spot near the tips and may have dark veins.
The pest can survive as adults for several months.

Females can lay 50-400 eggs in a lifetime at a rate of 10-12 per day.

The eggs are pearly white, smooth and elongated. They are difficult to see without magnification due to their small size of 0.7 mm long and 0.2 wide.

It takes 2-10 days for the eggs to hatch.

The larvae are cream/ yellow and legless. Three stages develop during a period of 10-20 days.

The pupae of olive fly are creamy white to yellow/ brown and 3-5 mm long.

Pupation may last between 10 days and 4 months, depending on environmental factors.

There can be 2-5 generations of olive fly per year.



Russell IPM manufactures and supplies pheromones, traps and surveillance systems for the complete control of the olive fly, Bactrocera oleae. The data collected from pheromone traps can give an early warning of infestation and also alert the user to low populations before they become serious.

Recent Literature

Canale et al., Behavioural and electrophysiological responses to overlooked female pheromone components in the olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae (Diptera: Tephritidae) Chemoecology June 2015, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 147-157

This study sheds light on the bioactivity of female-borne pheromones involved in the B. oleae chemoecology. Its research sheds light on the age-related production and bioactivity of some female-borne overlooked chemicals involved in the olive fruit fly chemical ecology, adding valuable information to understand the mating system of this fly. Furthermore, the findings have pivotal potential applications in B. oleae control strategies. Further research is ongoing to test methyl hexadecanoate and ethyl decanoate as lures to enhance sex pheromone blends used in IPM programmes against B. oleae, thus improving control tools against this key pest.

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Gil-Ortiz, R. (2015), Development of new ecological long-lasting dispensers of semiochemicals for the control of Bactrocera oleae (Rossi). Pest. Manag. Sci., 71: 1685–1693. doi: 10.1002/ps.3415

An evaluation of pheromone dispensers for the control of olive fruit fly (OFF) in fruit orchards. The study concluded that dispensers adequate for the control of OFF and with an emission performance that is similar to that of the best dispensers on the market (mainly MD types I and IE) have been obtained with two very important advantages: they are more ecological and, as already mentioned, can be optimised because of their characteristic components. However, no significant differences in captures were found between the dispensers tested, the highest numberof captures was obtained on average with themesoporous dispensers demonstrating good pheromone emission characteristics.

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Fazullah et al., Evaluation the efficiency of pheromone traps and monitoring of fruit fly population in peach orchards in Swat valley. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 2015; 3(5): 108-109

A field study was conducted at the Agriculture Research Institute (North) Mingora Swat to study fruit fly populations and evaluate the efficiency of certain pheromone traps in the monitoring and control of fruit fly. Three different designs of pheromone traps were installed in the peach orchards during summer 2011 and 2012. The recorded data showed that the population was at maximum at the beginning and decreased towards the end of the season. Analysis of variance showed significant differences among the populations trapped during different weeks of the seasons. The data revealed that the flat trap was the most efficient while the box trap showed poor performance. It is required that these traps may be assessed in other fruit orchards in different climates and regions of the country.

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