Ant cues affect the oviposition behaviour of fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Africa


Dr Paul Van Mele, Africa Rice Center (WARDA), 01 BP 2031, Cotonou, Benin. Tel.: +229 21 35 01 88; fax: +229 21 35 05 56; e-mail:


Abstract. Although most studies on fruit fly oviposition behaviour focus on horizontal interactions with competitors and cues from host plants, vertical interactions with predators are poorly documented. The present study provides direct evidence indicating that the oviposition behaviour of the two main mango fruit fly species, Ceratitis cosyra (Walker) and Bactrocera invadens Drew-Tsurata & White, is affected by secretions of the dominant arboreal ant Oecophylla longinoda (Latreille). When offered ant-exposed and unexposed mangoes in the absence of the ants, both fly species are reluctant to land on ant-exposed fruits and, when having landed, often take off quickly and fail to oviposit. The number of puparia collected from unexposed mangoes is approximately eight-fold higher than from ant-exposed ones. The results obtained from laboratory experiments and field observations confirm that adult fruit flies are more affected through repellence by ant cues than by direct predation. The use of cues by fruit flies in predator avoidance has implications for evolutionary ecology, behavioural ecology and chemical ecology.