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Keywords:

  • Mediterranean fruit fly;
  • mating behavior;
  • male attractants;
  • Citrus chemicals

Abstract

The response of wild Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) males to orange peel chemicals and their effect in mating competitiveness of males exposed to these chemicals was studied in the laboratory (25±2 °C, 65±5%, r.h.). Males were attracted, landed, and arrested on ripe oranges that were superficially wounded in the flavedo region of the peel, and fed on the wounds. Exposure to wounded oranges conferred to males a mating advantage over unexposed males. In flies of 1 to 10 days of age, this advantage was independent of the age of the flies during exposure and lasted at least 10 days following exposure. Twenty-four hours of exposure ensured this effect. Exposure to intact oranges, or to wounded oranges covered with a wire-screen, which allowed olfactory response and landing on the screen but not direct contact with the fruit, did not confer any mating advantage. Apparently, males required direct contact with wounded oranges in order to increase their mating competitiveness. It is suggested that the acquisition of certain substances of the flavedo, most probably through their ingestion, is responsible for the observed phenomenon. Our findings are discussed in relation to the sexual behaviour of this fly. Implications of these findings for the enhancement of the mating competitiveness of released sterile males and of the effectiveness of the Sterile Insect Technique programs are discussed as well.