Residential Composting of Infested Fruit: A Potential Pathway for Spread of Anastrepha Fruit Flies (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Paul E. Kendra, Michael K. Hennessey, Wayne S. Montgomery, Edward M. Jones, Nancy D. Epsky


Composting plant waste is a beneficial practice commonly used by American gardeners, but disposal of infested fruit directly into the environment creates a potential pathway for introduction of insect pests. This study estimates the likelihood of adult emergence for exotic fruit flies (Tephritidae) from residential composting in south Florida. Ripe grapefruits, Citrus × paradisi Macfad., were infested with the Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa (Loew). Half of the infested fruit was placed onto outdoor compost piles and half was maintained under controlled laboratory conditions. Adult fly emergence was recorded daily for 30 d from both the compost piles and control bins. Compost temperature, air temperature, relative humidity, and precipitation were monitored, and the study was repeated 4 times under different seasonal conditions. Despite high mortality of flies from the composted fruit relative to control fruit, the overall risk of a potentially mated female emerging from composted fruit was calculated to be 10%. Of the environmental factors evaluated, compost temperature was found to have a significant effect on adult emergence. Mortality approached 100% in piles with maximum compost temperatures =48°C. This report provides experimental data in support of quantitative risk analysis for a tephritid-compost pathway.

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