Influence of Diet and Methyl Eugenol on the Mating Success of Males of the Oriental Fruit Fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Todd E. Shelly, James Edu, Elaine Pahio


The chief objective of this study was to determine whether the inclusion of protein in the adult diet influences male mating success in the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel). Previous studies on this species have shown that ingestion of methyl eugenol (ME) greatly enhances male mating performance. Accordingly, we also examined the interaction between adult diet and ME and investigated whether this chemical boosts the male mating success independent of diet. In trials conducted in field tents, we compared the mating frequency of control, protein-fed males (no ME) versus males (1) deprived of protein during the entire adult life, the pre-maturation period, or the post-maturation period and (2) not provided ME or provided ME 1 day before testing. Males deprived of protein completely or when immature (1-12 days old) obtained very few matings (5 total matings) with or without ME feeding. Males provided protein as immature adults but deprived of protein as mature adults (12 days old; no ME) also were competitively inferior to control males but achieved a significantly higher proportion (37) of total matings than males in the preceding treatments. ME exposure boosted the mating success of these males slightly (40 of total matings) such that their mating frequency was not significantly different from control males. Additional tests showed that for treated males fed protein their entire adult life short-term (30 h) food deprivation resulted in a significant decrease in mating success, and feeding on ME did not boost the mating frequency of the food-deprived males. The implications of our findings for controlling B. dorsalis via sterile male releases are discussed.

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