Silba adipata


Silba adipata McAlpine

(Formerly known as Lonchaea aristella Becker).

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

Common name: Black fig fly.

Geographic distribution: Mediterranean basin, Iraq and recently, South Africa.

Morphology: The adult is glossy black with a bluish hue, 3.5-4.5 mm in length, with large red eyes and brown legs. Larva whitish, up to 8 mm in length.

Host plants: Fig (Ficus carica L.)

Life history: Females deposit their eggs in the opening of the syconium (commonly known as the “fruit”). They prefer unripe figs but ripening ones are also attacked. The larvae, which feed in groups (up to 30-60), eat the syconium tissues and at maturity drop to the soil wherein they pupate. The fly raises 4-6 annual generations. They are attracted to the sap from ripe figs and to exudates from damaged parts of the fig tree.

Economic importance: Infestation of unripe figs usually results in premature fruit drop, which may be mistaken as due to physiological problems. The damage, whose intensity changes from year to year, may be quite heavy.


Monitoring: Traps baited with ammonium sulfate, protein hydrolysate, or with the organic alcohol hexanol. Pest infestation can be determined by the figs changing their green color to brown

Biological control: The parasitoid Pachycrypodeus vindemmiae Rondani (Pteromalidae) attacks the pest in Greece.


Giliomee, J.H., Venter, E. and Wohlfarter, M. 2007. Mediterranean black fig fly, Silba adipata McAlpine (Diptera: Lonchaeidae), recorded from South Africa. African Entomology 15: 383-384.

Gonçalves, M.A., Andrade, L., Almeida, L. and Pica, M.C. 2008. Study of Ceratitis capitata and Lonchaea aristella on fig trees. Acta Horticulturae 798: 263-267.

Katsoyannos, B.I. 1983. Field observations on the biology and behaviour of the black fig fly Silba adipata McAlpine (Diptera: Lonchaeidae) and trapping experiments. Zeitschrift für ange¬wandte Entomologie 95: 471–476.

Raz, D. 1998. The phenology of the fig fly and its control. Acta Horticulturae 380: 207–208.