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Keywords:

  • Bactrocera tryoni;
  • diet;
  • longevity;
  • mating;
  • remating;
  • sperm;
  • Tephritidae

Abstract

1 Recent studies have shown that continuous access to a protein source (yeast hydrolysate) can greatly enhance the sexual performance of male Queensland fruit flies (Bactrocera tryoni; ‘Q-flies’). However, in Sterile Insect Technique programmes used to eradicate or suppress wild populations, mass-reared Q-flies are typically fed only sucrose and water for up to 2 days before release.

2 We investigated whether adding a protein source to the diet of male Q-flies for a 24- or 48-h window after emergence and then removing it is sufficient to enhance mating probability, latency to mate, copula duration, probability of sperm storage, number of sperm stored, female remating tendency and longevity of male Q-flies.

3 Protein-fed males were more likely to mate than males fed only sucrose, especially when young. Protein-fed males also had shorter mating latencies and longer copulations than protein-deprived males.

4 Females mated by protein-fed males were more likely to store sperm, stored more sperm and were less likely to remate than were females mated by protein-deprived males. Females were also less likely to remate if their first mate had been large.

5 Overall, providing male Q-flies access to a protein source for a 24- or 48-h window early on in their adult life was sufficient to greatly enhance all assessed measures of performance. Although 24-h access was sufficient for a notable enhancement, further benefits were evident in males provided 48-h access.

6 The results are discussed in terms of the practical implications for Sterile Insect Technique programs used to eradicate or suppress wild Q-fly populations.