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Effects of diet and host access on fecundity and lifespan in two fruit fly species with different life-history patterns


Correspondence: James F. Harwood, Department of Entomology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, U.S.A. Tel.: +1 661 301 4180; e-mail:


The reproductive ability of female tephritids can be limited and prevented by denying access to host plants and restricting the dietary precursors of vitellogenesis. The mechanisms underlying the delayed egg production in each case are initiated by different physiological processes that are anticipated to have dissimilar effects on lifespan and reproductive ability later in life. The egg-laying abilities of laboratory-reared females of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata Wiedmann) and melon fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae Coquillett) from Hawaii are delayed or suppressed by limiting access to host fruits and dietary protein. In each case, this is expected to prevent the loss of lifespan associated with reproduction until protein or hosts are introduced. Two trends are observed in each species: first, access to protein at eclosion leads to a greater probability of survival and a higher reproductive ability than if it is delayed and, second, delayed host access reduces lifetime reproductive ability without improving life expectancy. When host access and protein availability are delayed, the rate of reproductive senescence is reduced in the medfly, whereas the rate of reproductive senescence is generally increased in the melon fly. Overall, delaying reproduction lowers the fitness of females by constraining their fecundity for the remainder of the lifespan without extending the lifespan. © 2013 The Royal Entomological Society