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Are citrus species favorable hosts for the Mediterranean fruit fly? A demographic perspective

Authors

  • Dimitrios P. Papachristos,

    1. Department of Entomology and Agricultural Zoology, Benaki Phytopathological Institute, 8 St. Delta Str., 145 61, Kifissia, Athens, Greece
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  • Nikos T. Papadopoulos

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Entomology and Agricultural Zoology, Department of Agriculture, Crop Production and Rural Environment, University of Thessaly, Phytokou st. 38446 N. Ionia (Volos), Magnisia, Greece
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*Nikos T. Papadopoulos, Department of Agriculture, Crop Production and Rural Environment, University of Thessaly, Phytokou st. 38446 N. Ionia (Volos), Magnisia, Greece. E-mail: nikopap@uth.gr

Abstract

We studied, under laboratory conditions, demographic parameters of adult Mediterranean fruit flies, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) (medfly), obtained from three sweet orange varieties, lemon, and bitter oranges. These data were combined with immature developmental rates and survival on the same hosts to estimate host-specific population parameters. Pairs of newly emerged adults from each citrus variety were held individually in transparent plastic cages, and females were allowed to oviposit in either red domes (artificial, pre-punctured plastic oviposition devices), or intact, whole citrus fruits. We found strong effects of larval host (citrus fruits) on adult longevity and fecundity. In all five citrus varieties, females did not manage to deposit eggs into fruit pulp. The proportion of eggs laid in either the flavedo or albedo area of the fruit peel differed depending on the citrus variety. In all cases except bitter oranges, females oviposited fewer eggs in citrus fruits than in the artificial oviposition substrates, suggesting that most citrus fruits cause a significant reduction in the reproductive potential of medflies. Negative correlations were found between fecundity and (a) the density of oil glands, and (b) the amount of essential oils in the flavedo area of citrus fruits. There was no correlation between fecundity and other fruit physical characteristics, such as resistance of fruit peel to pressure and thickness of the flavedo. Apparently, resistance of citrus fruits to medfly infestation is directly related to citrus essential oils. The intrinsic rate of increase (r) was higher in bitter oranges than in the three sweet orange varieties tested. A negative r was estimated for flies that developed and oviposited in lemons, indicating a tendency for population decrease in this host. The suitability of citrus fruits for medfly development and the practical implications of our findings for management of medflies in citrus orchards are discussed.

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