A six-year-long survey has spotted 37 fruit fly species, including an invasive pest, in the country
Scientists carrying out a six-year-long survey on fly species in Bangladesh have accidentally stumbled to a new fruit fly, which was never seen before anywhere in the world.
The fly spotted in Madhupur National Park, Tangail has been named as “Zeugodacus madhupuri,” reports renowned taxonomic journal Zookeys in its September issue. Zeugodacus is a genus of tephritid or fruit flies.
Scientists from Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), University of Idaho and University of Hawaii at Manoa, US jointly carried out the 2013-18 fly survey in Bangladesh, spotting as many as 37 species of fruit flies.
Of them, madhupuri is the one that has been found for the first time anywhere in the world. The species name refers to the Madhupur National Park, from where it and the other specimens were collected.
The survey financed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also spotted, for the first time, presence of Bactrocera carambolae, an invasive pest notorious for causing havocs to fruits and vegetables.
Dr M Aftab Hossain, principal scientific officer at Insect Biotechnology Division of BAEC’s Institute of Food and Radiation Biology (IFRB), led the team of scientists that spotted the new fly species in Tangail.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Dr Aftab said up until last year’s data there are 972 species of fruit flies in the world. “We’ve found proofs of the presence of 37 species of those in Bangladesh, with madhupuri being the first to be found anywhere in the world.”
Asked why it’s important to know what fruit flies are there in a country, he said: “Export, import of fruits and vegetables constitute a great part of global trade and commerce, and keeping pests, flies’ inventory updated is crucial for sanitary, phytosanitary prerequisites in international commodity trading.”
The other participating scientists include Luc Leblanc of the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, University of Idaho; Michael San Jose and Daniel Rubinoff of University of Hawaii; and Shakil Ahmed Khan and Mahfuza Momen of BAEC.
Dr Aftab said: “We engaged in six years of snap-shot surveys for fruit flies in rural environments and 10 protected forest areas of Bangladesh, using traps baited with male lures.
“Our work has increased the recorded number of species of fruit flies in the country from seven to 37. Moreover, we found out a new species (Zeugodacus madhupuri).”
The BAEC scientist identified the spotting of Bactrocera carambolae, which is an invasive pest, in Bangladesh as a major cause of concern.
“In the past Bactrocera carambolae caused huge losses to mango, guava and some other fruits in Thailand, Indonesia and Australia, among other countries. The fly species’ significant westward range extension brought it to mostly in the Chittagong Division through Myanmar,” Dr Aftab explained.