Trade-off between mobility and fitness in Cydia pomonella L. (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)


*Silvia Dorn, Institute of Plant Sciences/Applied Entomology, ETH, Schmelzbergstr. 9/LFO, CH-8092, Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail:


Abstract.  1. The codling moth Cydia pomonella, one of the most important pest insects of apple fruit orchards worldwide, is regarded as a ‘sedentary’ insect, but the natural populations consist of both mobile and sedentary genotypes that display different dispersal capacity in the field. The current study investigated whether there is a fitness consequence of being mobile in this species by comparing two strains with contrasting levels of mobility obtained through bi-directional selection.

2. Female moths of the sedentary strain were significantly larger, laid more eggs during their lifespan, and both male and female moths of this strain lived longer, when compared with the mobile strain.

3. The age-specific fecundity of female moths from the sedentary strain was significantly greater, in particular between 3 and 5 days after emergence when the peaks of both oviposition and flight capacity occur, relative to the mobile moths, thereby leading to a greater reproductive function.

4. These differences resulted in different demographic parameters between the two strains. The sedentary strain had a significantly greater net reproductive rate (Ro) and a higher intrinsic rate of natural increase (rm), although the generation time (T) was similar, hence requiring a shorter time to double the population size, in comparison to the mobile strain.

5. This study provides empirical evidence for the cost of being mobile in C. pomonella. Trade-offs between mobility and fitness might have contributed to the existence of genetic variance for dispersal behaviour in the natural populations and the maintenance of relative sedentariness in the species.