The body of C. capitata is protected by an exoskeleton made of chitin. As in all insects, the body has three main segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen; as well as three pairs of legs. The oval-shaped abdomen is yellowish with two white bands. It is covered by black bristles. The thorax is whitish-yellow with patches of black. The eyes are reddish-purple, transforming to black within 24 hours of death. The single pair of wings is translucent and embellished with patterns of brown, yellow, black, and white.
Medflies exhibit sexual dimorphism in that females are larger than males and can be identified by a yellow wing pattern and pointed ovipositor (about 1.2 mm long) which is used to plant eggs within the host fruit. Males have more exaggerated features such as more brightly colored eyes, longer front legs, and a pair of supra-fronto-orbital bristles.
The white larvae, or maggots, are legless and may be up to 8 mm in length. Pupal length is about 4 mm and adults range from 3 to 5 mm, approximately two-thirds the size of a housefly. The wingspan of C. capitata was not available, but can be extrapolated from the wingspan of similar species. Oriental fruit flies, which have a body length of 6 to 8 mm, have a wingspan of 5.3 to 7.3 mm. Medflies, being slightly smaller in body size, probably have slightly shorter wingspans.
Range length: 3 to 5 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful