The adult Mediterranean fruit fly is about 4-5 mm long. It has bright emerald green eyes suffused with reddish brown. The thorax is black suffused with greyish yellow and the abdomen mainly yellowish orange with 2 silvery crossbands. The wings are clear with black veins and marked with black spots and brownish yellow patches. The eggs are about 1 mm long and narrowly fusiform. Larvae are up to 8 mm long, translucent white, becoming a dirty cream-white on completion of feeding. They have prominent black mouth hooks. The puparium is 4-5 mm long, yellowish brown to reddish brown and barrel-shaped.
The eggs are laid below the skin of the host fruit. After hatching, the larvae feed on the flesh of the fruit. As each fly lays several eggs in a fruit and different flies may lay eggs in the same fruit, the number of larvae per fruit can be very high. After about 6-11 days, they are fully developed and leave the fruit to pupate in the soil.
C. capitata does not survive sub-zero winter temperatures.It is well named as ‘Mediterranean’, after the area in which it survives in Europe and North Africa (virtually coinciding with the area where citrus is grown)