All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory - Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Diptera - Fruit flies

Gymnocarena mississippiensis Norrbom

Photograph by Rebecca P. Shiflett















Fruit flies

Gymnocarena mississippiensis was described by Norrbom in 1992 based upon four specimens collected from Kentucky and Mississippi. After publication an additional specimen from Oklahoma was located in the FSCA bringing the total number of known specimens to 5. To date, an additional 5 specimens have been trapped (6m Malaise) from two localities in the western end of Cades Cove that are tentatively placed in this species. These specimens differ from the holotype in the position and extent of the hyaline wing spots but agree with the two paratypes from Mississippi and the specimen from Oklahoma. Additional collections and study will be required to determine if all specimens are conspecific. 


Size: Robust, approximately 7.5-9.5 mm from antennae to tip of wings.
Wing pattern: Yellow-tinged hyaline in basal half, brownish-black in apical half with clear, hyaline spots internally plus clear spots and wedge-shaped marks along the wing edges.
Body color: Orangish color throughout, stout bristles on head, thorax and forelegs.
Oviscape: Reddish brown basally, darker apically, about 0.8 mm long, tapered to a truncate tip.


 Gymnocarena mississippiensis, Adult Female, Cades Cove, August 2002, Photograph by Rebecca P. Shiflett.

Similar species:

 One other species of Gymnocarena has been found in GSMNP but differs in details of the wing pattern. No other tephritid flies should be confused with this distinctive genus.

(GSMNP in green)

 Mississippi, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (GSMNP).


 In Park:

To date, Gymnocarena mississippiensis has only been found in the western half of Cades Cove.



 Unknown. Other Gymnocarena species have been reared from Helianthus and/or Verbesina (Asteraceae). The latter is common in the areas where G. mississippiensis has been found.



 Open sunny old fields or meadows containing large populations of Verbesina, or edges of such, at lower elevations.


 Adults have been collected in May (1) and August (4).

 Breeding and Courtship:


 Oviposition and Immature Stages:

 Unknown. Larvae probably feed in seed heads.

 Predators and Parasites:


 Community Ecology:



Populations of this fly depend on maintenance of its host plant populations, which in turn require regular disturbances to maintain open meadows and edges along forests and roadsides.

 Special Protection Status:

- Rangewide: None

- In Park: All plants and animals are protected within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Collection requires a permit which is usually granted only for research or educational purposes.



Gary J. Steck, Ph.D., Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville
Bruce D. Sutton, Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville


Rebecca P. Shiflett

Web Page Development:

Bruce D. Sutton, Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville


Foote, R. H., F. L. Blanc, and A. L. Norrbom. 1993. Handbook of the fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) of America north of Mexico. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 571 pp.
Norrbom, A. L. 1992. A revision of the Nearctic genus Gymnocarena Hering (Diptera: Tephritidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 94(4): 527-555.


hyaline - Clear or transparent.
oviposition - The act of laying eggs.
oviscape - The hardened sheath enclosing the needle-like ovipositor, or egg-laying structure, of female tephritid flies.

Please send any questions or comments to G. J. Steck or B. D. Sutton

Last Updated: October 21, 2002