Atherigona soccata

Atherigona soccata (Rondani)

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Holometabola, Diptera, Brachycera, Muscidae.

Common name: Sorghum shoot fly.

Geographical distribution: Southern Europe, North and East Africa, India and the Middle East.

Morphology: The female is bout 3-3.5 mm in length; body grey-brown, abdomen and legs yellow, the abdomen with dark spots. Maggot about 6.5 mm long and with 2 posterior black spiracular lobs.

Host plants: Sorghum, corn, various Gramineae (Poaceae).

Life cycle: The female places its eggs singly on the lower surface of leaf blades. The larvae (maggots) feed on the plant’s growing point. In Thailand each female deposited close to 240 eggs and lived for about 30 days. A life-cycle (egg-to-adult) may take 3-6 weeks, and annually the pest can complete up to 10 generations.

Economic importance: This pest is considered to be one of the most important and destructive sorghum pests, whenever plants are attacked at the seedling stage, especially in the semi-arid tropics. Feeding on the plant’s growing point may kill the central stem, causing “deadheart”. This symptom of infestation is evident within 2-3 days after attack. Annual losses in India have been estimated to exceed US$100 million.


Monitoring: Yellow sticky traps are used for monitoring; another method is counting the number of infested “hearts” in young sorghum plants.

Plant resistant: Several sorghum varieties are resistant to the pest.

Chemical control: Seed coating with a neonicotinoid moderately reduced pest damage.

Biological control: Several Eulophidae, namely Tetrastichus nyemitawus Rohwer and Tetrastichus spp. attack the pest in India. The parasitism of Neotrichoporoides nyemitawus Rohwer in India was greater (up to 30%) in a sorghum-cowpea intercrop than where sorghum was the sole crop. The eggs of A. soccata are parasitized by species of Trichogramma and killed by spiders.


Blum, A. 1967. Varietal resistance of sorghum to the sorghum-shoot-fly (Atherigona varia var. soccata). Crop Science 7: 461-462.

Chamarthi, S.K., Vijay, P.M., Sharma, H.C. and Narasu, L.M. 2012. Constitutive and inducible resistance to Atherigona soccata (Diptera: Muscidae) in Sorghum bicolor. Journal of Economic Entomology 105: 1069-76.

Dhillon, M.K., Sharma, H.C., Singh, R. and Naresh, J.S. 2005. Mechanisms of resistance to shoot fly, Atherigona soccata in sorghum. Euphytica 144: 301–312.

Meksongsee, B., Chawanapong, M., Sangkasuwan, U. and Poonyathaworn, P. 1981. The biology and control of the sorghum shoot fly, Atherigona soccata Rondani, in Thailand. Insect Science and Application 2: 111–116.

Nwanze, K.F., Nwilene, F.E. and Reddy, Y.V.R. 1998. Evidence of shoot fly Atherigona soccata Rondani (Dipt., Muscidae) oviposition response to sorghum seedling volatiles. Journal of Applied Entomology 122: 591-594.

Sade, D., Freidberg, A., Goren, O. and Zukerman, E. 2004. Development of control methods of the sorghum shoot fly, a major pest of sorghum. Gan SaDeh Vanof 2004 (1): 14-18 (in Hebrew).

Singh, B.U. and Sharma, H.C. 2002 Natural enemies of sorghum shoot fly, Atherigona soccata Rondani (Diptera: Muscidae). Biocontrol Science and Technology 12: 307-323.

Yathom, S. 1967. Effects of Irrigation on the efficiency of soil treatments with granular systemic insecticides against the sorghum shoot fly, Atherigona varia Rond, in Israel. Israel Journal of Entomology 2: 171-178.

Zongo, J.O., Vincent, C. and Stewart, R.K. 1993. . Parasitism of sorghum shoot, Atherigona soccata Rondani (Diptera, Muscidae) by Neotrichoporoides nyemitawus Rohwer (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae). Insect Science and its Application 14: 637-642.