Despite the potential for phenological and abundance data to improve the reliability of species niche models, they are seldom used. The aim of this study was to combine information on the distribution, relative abundance and seasonal phenology of Natal fruit fly, Ceratitis rosa Karsch (Diptera: Tephritidae), in South Africa to model its potential global distribution. Bucket traps, baited with Biolure, were used to trap C. rosa in different climatic regions of South Africa over a two-year period. A CLIMEX niche model of the potential global distribution of C. rosa was fitted using the collected trapping data and other distribution records from South Africa. Independent distribution records for elsewhere in Africa were reserved for model validation. The CLIMEX model results conformed well to the South African trapping data, including information on relative abundance and seasonal phenology, as well as to the pattern of presence records of the species elsewhere in Africa. The model suggests that under recent historical conditions a large part of South America, Central America, Mexico and southern USA may be climatically suitable for establishment of C. rosa. In Europe, climatically suitable habitat is restricted to coastal regions of the Mediterranean, in Asia, mostly to the southern and south eastern countries, and in Australia mostly to the wetter south and east. The independent cross-validation provided by South African relative abundance and seasonal phenology data, central African distribution data and relevant species specific biological information provides greater confidence in the modelled potential distribution of C. rosa.