All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory - Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Diptera - Fruit flies

Rhagoletis sp. "Cornus florida" Undescribed Species

Photograph by Gary R. Buckingham-USDA, Gainesville, FL.















Fruit flies

This Rhagoletis was treated as conspecific with R. cornivora by Bush (1966). Studies since then indicate that this is an undescribed species within the pomonella complex.  



Size: Approximately 5-7 mm from antennae to tip of wings.
Wing pattern: Four bold black bands that mimic jumping spider silhouette when held in resting position.
Body color: Black except for white scutellum and three or four silvery bands on abdomen.
Oviscape: Black, about 0.6 mm long in ventral view, but appearing only about half that long in dorsal view, weakly tapered to truncate tip.


 Rhagoletis sp. "Cornus florida", Adult male, Photograph by Gary R. Buckingham - USDA, Gainesville, FL.

Similar species:

 At least five other species of Rhagoletis occur in GSMNP. This undescribed species is difficult or impossible to differentiate from other species of the pomonella complex (e.g., pomonella, cornivora, mendax) except by host association. Rhagoletis cingulata and R. suavis have clearly different wing patterns.

(GSMNP in green)

Previously recorded from Florida and Maryland. Also found in North Carolina (GSMNP) and Tennessee (GSMNP). Probably found throughout the SE coastal plain and piedmont wherever the host is found.



 In Park:

Sugarlands Headquarters and Oconaluftee. Probably found throughout the lower and mid elevations of GSMNP wherever the host is found.



 Restricted to Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida L. (Cornaceae)



 Lower to mid elevation deciduous forests and edges, stream floodplains, and disturbed areas.


 Univoltine. Larvae have been collected in November.

 Breeding and Courtship:

 Courtship probably occurs on or near the host.

 Oviposition and Immature Stages:

 Females oviposit into ripe fruit of the host where the larvae develop. Larvae leave the fruit to pupariate and overwinter in the soil.

 Predators and Parasites:


 Community Ecology:



Populations of this fly depend on maintenance of its host plant populations.

 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


Gary R. Buckingham, USDA, Gainesville, FL.
Gary J. Steck, Ph.D., Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville.

Web Page Development:

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



Bush, G.L. 1966. The taxonomy, cytology, and evolution of the genus Rhagoletis in North America (Diptera, Tephritidae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 134(11): 431-562.
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.
Smith, J. J. and G.L. Bush. 2000. Phylogeny of the subtribe Carpomyina (Trypetinae), emphasizing relationships of the genus Rhagoletis, pp. 187-217. In Aluja, M. and A. L. Norrbom, eds., Fruit Flies (Tephritidae): Phylogeny and Evolution of Behavior. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 944 pp.


oviposition - The act of laying eggs.
oviscape - The hardened sheath enclosing the needle-like ovipositor, or egg-laying structure, of female tephritid flies.
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.
univoltine - Having one generation per year.

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

Last Updated: October 25, 2002