• Ceratitis capitata;
  • copula;
  • sexual selection;
  • sperm;
  • Tephritidae


In the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata Weidemann, ‘medfly’), a lekking tephritid, evidence from laboratory studies of flies from laboratory strains suggests that copulation is shorter, and sperm storage more abundant, if males are large or protein-fed, and that copulation is longer when females are large. In addition, sperm tend to be stored asymmetrically between the female’s two spermathecae and this asymmetry declines with abundance of stored sperm. The primary objective of this study was to investigate whether these trends persist in other experimental contexts that bear closer resemblance to nature. Accordingly, we carried out experiments in a field-cage using males derived as adults from a wild population and virgin females reared from naturally infested fruit. The results of this study were consistent with laboratory studies in that copula duration increased with female size, that sperm were stored asymmetrically between the females’ spermathecae, and that this asymmetry declined with number of sperm stored. However, we also found some previously unreported effects of female size; large females stored more sperm and stored sperm more asymmetrically between their two spermathecae than did small females. Unlike the laboratory studies, copula duration and sperm storage patterns were unaffected by male size and diet. This may be due to overwhelming variation from other sources in the wild-collected males used, as well as environmental variability in the semi-natural setting.