Mating Competitiveness of Mass-Reared Males of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Eclosion Towers

Todd E. Shelly, Timothy C. Holler, Joseph L. Stewart


In Florida, an ongoing Preventative Release Program utilizes the sterile insect technique to prevent infestations of the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly), Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann). Unlike other such programs, which use plastic, storage (PARC) boxes, the Florida operation holds pupae and newly emerged adults in eclosion towers prior to release. Although eclosion towers save space and labor, few data exist regarding the quality of sterile male medflies held in towers versus PARC boxes. Here, we present the results of field-cage trials comparing the mating success of sterile males held in towers versus PARC boxes. In addition, previous research has shown that exposing PARC box-held males to the aroma of ginger root oil (GRO) increases their mating competitiveness. Consequently, we assessed whether a similar increase was evident for tower-held males. Finally, we performed a mark-release-recapture study involving GRO-exposed and non-exposed males and estimated their relative survival and dispersal in the field using the trap catch data. Data from the mating trials showed that sterile males held in towers displayed approximately the same mating success as sterile males held in PARC boxes and that, among tower-held males, GRO significantly increased mating competitiveness relative to non-exposed males. In the trapping study, significantly more GRO-exposed males were captured than non-exposed males, and there was no apparent difference in the duration of the post-release interval over which GRO-exposed and non-exposed males were captured. These findings, along with earlier comparisons of adult weight, flight ability, and yield suggest no obvious differences in the efficacy of tower and PARC-box eclosion systems for medfly sterile release programs.

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