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Lesser Cucurbit Fly

Didacus ciliatus

Lesser Cucurbit Fly, Small Cucurbit Fly, Lesser Pumpkin Fly (Eng.)

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The Lesser Curcurbit Fly (Didacus ciliatus) is an important agricultural pest that can also cause havoc in the garden. They can grow as large as 1.5cm, and look a little like wasps because of the yellow patterning on the thorax. These flies lay their eggs in the fruits of pumpkins, watermelons, gourds and gem squashes, deforming the fruit or, making it inedible.
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These flies are pests of pumpkins, watermelons, gourds and gem squashes.


Adults: They measure between 1.2 and 1.5cm. Almost wasp-like, they possess two yellow spots on the sides of the thorax, then triangular yellow marking on the posterior end of the thorax. The rest of the body is black, with red-brown legs and black rims on the wings. The adults are closely associated with dry and arid areas where cucurbits are grown.


Fruits may become discoloured. The affected fruits may begin to form mould. Gummosis may be evident in effected plants. When the fruits are split open there are maggots inside. You may see black or brown lesions on fruits. Fruit lesions may begin to scab or form pits. Obvious exit holes may be present in fruit. The fruits may begin to smell bad and ooze goo. These flies have a preference for young, soft fruits.











Africa, parts of Asia and New Zealand.

Biological treatment

By practising good housekeeping, you can help prevent fruit fly infestations. Try to pick fruits before they become too ripe and fall to the ground. If they do fall, be sure to pick them up. Don't put decaying fruit in the compost bin. By doing so, you'll create a haven for fruit flies! Mix compost bins regularly to allow them to breathe. Always keep the compost covered with a lid. Cucurbits planted earlier than December and after February tend to be targeted less by this fly. Covering crops with a fine mesh can sometimes be an effective barrier against Fruit Flies. Protein bated traps can be used to attract these flies and monitor the population size. There are natural forms of biocontrol present. The parasitic braconid wasp, Fopius bevisi, is thought to kill this fly. Attract these to the garden by planting a range of strong-smelling plants, such as the Achillea, Allium, Coriandrum, Petroselinum, and Tagetes genera. They won't eliminate the fly, but they will help to control numbers.

Chemical treatment

Pesticide baited traps can be useful, and they kill the adults, preventing them from laying eggs in the fruit. This works because the adults only feed on sugary liquids, so it's possible to attract them with sugar laced with poison.


These flies are highly attracted to dry and arid areas where cucurbits are being grown.

Winter Squash

Cucurbita spp.

Scarlet Gourd

Coccinia spp.

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