New fruit fly species recorded in Himachal

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Shimla– A new fruit fly (Tephritidae) species, earlier confused with Bactrocera nigrofemoralis, was found during survey studies conducted for fruit flies in Himachal Pradesh by researchers of Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Nauni, it was announced on Wednesday.

The discovery was made during the doctoral research of Maneesh Pal Singh, who was working under the guidance of Divender Gupta, Professor and Head of the Department of Entomology.

After characterisation and consultation with UK-based fruit fly taxonomy expert David Lawrence Hancock, the species was characterized based on morphological characters as well molecular analysis based on cytochrome oxidase and was named this species as Bactrocera divenderi.

Gupta said earlier this species was confused with Bactrocera nigrofemoralis. Maneesh Pal Singh during his research described it as a new species i.e. B. divenderi separating it from B. nigrofemoralis, mainly on the characters present on thorax and genitalia along with molecular characterisation.

This species is mainly prevalent in mid hills — parts of Solan, Sirmaur, Mandi, Shimla and Kangra districts — of the state, infesting peaches and nectarines.

Higher diversity of fruit flies existed in the state in comparison to other north Indian states as revealed from the findings of the research work carried out by Singh. The research findings on this aspect have been published in the July issue of ‘Zootaxa’ Journal published from New Zealand.

The type specimens of the same have been deposited at the High Altitude Regional Centre of Zoological Survey of India in Solan for reference record.

According to Gupta, the fruit flies as a group are pests of international importance and quarantine significance.

These are direct pests and cause damage to a number of fruits like peaches, guava, mango and vegetables, mainly the cucurbits. They adapt to new environments and keep on increasing host range.

Recently, kiwi has been recorded as a new host for fruit flies from Himachal Pradesh.

University Vice Chancellor Rajeshwar Singh Chandel said the detailed work on this species will help to devise formal management programmes against this species infecting peaches and nectarines. (IANS)

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