Fruit-Foraging Behavior of Mediterranean Fruit Fly Females on Host and Non- Host Plants

Ronald J. Prokopy, Daniel R. Papaj, Tim T.Y. Wong


The hypothesis that female fruit flies (Family Tephritidae) remain longer and discover fruit more readily on host plants than on non-host plants was examined. Naive, gravid females of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), were released on non-fruiting host and non-host plants in a large outdoor cage. Their behavior within each plant was characterized over 15 min. using a stopwatch and tape recorder. Although medfly females remained longer on one non-fruiting host (mandarin orange) than on one non-fruiting non-host (Norfolk pine), they stayed just as long on another non-fruiting non-host (eldorado) as on mandarin orange. Also, females tended to leave a second non-fruiting host (tomato) more rapidly than eldorado. In one experiment where host fruit (kumquats) were artificially placed on the plant branches, females were just as likely to find such fruit on non-host as on host plants. Thus, medfly females may forage for fruit on host and certain non-host plants in a like fashion, with vegetative characteristics of host plants not necessarily promoting greater fruit finding efficiency.

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