Nauni/Solan: A new fruit fly (Tephritidae) species which was earlier confused with Bactrocera nigrofemoralis, was found during survey studies conducted for fruit flies in Himachal Pradesh by the researchers of Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni.

The discovery was made during the doctoral research of Dr. Maneesh Pal Singh working under the guidance of Dr. Divender Gupta, Professor and Head, Department of Entomology. After characterization and consultation with UK-based fruit fly taxonomy expert Dr. 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.

Dr. Divender Gupta informed that earlier, this species was confused with Bactrocera nigrofemoralis and Dr. 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 characterization.

This species is mainly prevalent in mid hills (parts of Solan, Sirmour, Mandi, Shimla and Kangra) of Himachal Pradesh, infesting peaches and nectarines. Higher diversity of fruit flies existed in Himachal Pradesh in comparison to other North Indian states as revealed by the findings of the research work carried out by Dr. 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 at Solan, Himachal Pradesh, for reference records.

According to Dr. 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 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 Prof. Rajeshwar Singh Chandel congratulated the researchers and hoped that species will help to devise formal management programmes against this species infecting peaches and nectarines.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.