The production of female sex pheromone in Bactrocera oleae (Rossi) young males does not influence their mating chances


Angelo Canale, Department of Tree Science, Entomology and Plant Pathology “G. Scaramuzzi”, University of Pisa, via S. Michele degli Scalzi 2, 56124 Pisa, Italy. Email:


In Bactrocera oleae females attract males, which is in contrast to the majority of Tephritidae. However, the major component of the secretion of the female rectal ampulla glands, 1,7-dioxaspiro-[5,5]-undecane (DSU), was also isolated from the glands of young males. The DSU produced by females and young males attracts males, but not females. In this study, we investigated the role of the production of DSU in young males. The mating performances of young and old males were evaluated, as well as the male-male courtships by old males oriented at young and old males. Young males were found not to have a mating advantage. Young males were courted more by other males. Frame-by-frame analysis of male wing vibrations showed that this behavior did not differ when oriented at females and young males, highlighting that young males are perceived as females by the courting males. Overall, the production of DSU in young B. oleae males did not seem to be a case of female chemical mimicry. The hypothesis that young olive fruit fly males could benefit indirectly from the DSU production, simply distracting mature males away from females, is discussed.