All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory - Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Diptera - Fruit flies

Neaspilota albidipennis (Loew)

Photograph by Jeffrey Lotz - FDACS/DPI















Fruit flies


Size: Approximately 4.5-5.8 mm long from antennae to tip of wing.
Wing pattern: Clear except for a single dark spot near middle of anterior edge.
Body color: Thorax covered with dense gray tomentum, abdomen grayish-brown.
Oviscape: Brownish-black, 0.8-0.9 mm long, tapered to blunt tip.


Neaspilota albidipennis Adult Female, Cades Cove, August 2002, Photograph by Jeffrey Lotz - FDACS/DPI.

Similar species:

 Neaspilota alba, though not yet recorded from GSMNP, is probably present in the Park. Its wing is completely hyaline or has only a yellow mark instead of the dark mark seen in N. albidipennis.

(GSMNP in green; localized collections in Texas indicated by red circles)

Northern U.S. from Kansas and Nebraska east to the Atlantic Coast and south to North Carolina and Tennessee (GSMNP).




 In Park:

Cades Cove and The Purchase.



Restricted to species of Ironweed Vernonia (Asteraceae). In GSMNP adults have been collected from Vernonia noveboracensis (L.) Michx. and V. gigantea (Walter) Trel. ex Branner & Cov.



 Open sunny fields, meadows, and grassy balds, often wet, in which the hosts are found. Low to high elevations.


 Adults have been collected in August in GSMNP. Flight time is late May to early September in other parts of its range. Probably univoltine.

 Breeding and Courtship:


 Oviposition and Immature Stages:

 Females attack unopened flower heads and oviposit through the phyllaries. Larvae feed on the developing seeds and other tissue. Pupariation is within the flower head. Phillips (1946) reported that maggots feed singly in the base of a flower head and consume many seeds. She also described the larva in detail.

 Predators and Parasites:


 Community Ecology:

 Two other tephritid flies, Neaspilota vernoniae and Tomoplagia obliqua, whose larvae also feed in seed heads of Vernonia, co-occur with N. albidipennis in GSMNP, but the extent of their relationships are unknown. Likewise, in Kansas, N. albidipennis occurs together with T. obliqua, N. vernoniae, and another Neaspilota and Trupanea species (Schwitzgebel & Wilbur 1943).


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


Jeffrey Lotz, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Gainesville
Gary J. Steck, Ph.D., Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville

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.
Freidberg, A. and W.N. Mathis. 1986. Studies of Terelliinae (Diptera: Tephritidae): a revision of the genus Neaspilota Osten Sacken. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, No. 439, 75 pp.
Phillips, V. T. 1946. The biology and identification of trypetid larvae (Diptera: Tephritidae). American Entomol. Soc., Mem. No. 12, 161 pp + XVI plates.
Schwitzgebel, R.B. and D.A. Wilbur. 1943. Diptera associated with ironweed, Vernonia interior, in Kansas. Journal Kansas Entomological Society 16: 4-13.


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.
phyllaries - The leafy bracts surrounding the flower heads of Asteraceae.
puparium - The hardened, cocoon-like structure, unique to Diptera, which develops from the cast 3rd instar skin, within which metamorphosis from pupa to adult takes place.
tomentum - a covering of very fine, matted setae.
univoltine - Having one generation per year.

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

Last Updated: November 1, 2002