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New findings on factors affecting fruit fly male mating competitiveness

If you were a male fruit fly, what you eat, how much you eat and your age when you eat can all play an important role in determining how successful you will be in mating.

The new findings of Prof. Suk-Ling Wee from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Prof. Tony Clarke from the Queensland University of Technology were recently published in Scientific Reports. In their study, it was found that males of Bactrocera jarvisi display increased mating success when lure-fed, especially with zingerone, and that both lure dose and age at feeding contributed to this effect. These findings may have important implications to improve fruit fly pest management via the Sterile Insect Technique.

Read the publication.

"Male-lure type, lure dosage, and fly age at feeding all influence male mating success in Jarvis’ fruit fly"

Suk-Ling Wee & Anthony R. Clarke


Males of certain Dacini fruit flies are strongly attracted to, and feed upon, plant secondary compounds such as methyl eugenol, raspberry ketone and zingerone. The consumed lure is generally found to induce physiological and behavioural changes that enhance the mating performance of lure-fed males. Male Bactrocera jarvisi respond strongly to zingerone from a young age, but only weakly respond to raspberry ketone. We hypothesized that this selective lure-response would be reflected in the physiological importance of the lure to the fly. We found that zingerone feeding by young males resulted in significantly greater mating success in competitive mating trials with lure-deprived flies, but the mating advantage was lost in older males. Lure dosage had a significant effect on the duration of the mating advantage, for example when fed 20 µg of zingerone, the advantage lasted only 1 day post-feeding, but when fed of 50 µg zingerone the advantage lasted 7 days. Raspberry ketone feeding did not confer any mating advantage to males except at one dosage (50 µg) for 1 day after feeding. When given a choice, B. jarvisi females preferred to mate with zingerone-fed versus to raspberry ketone-fed males. This study revealed lure, dosage and age of fly at time of lure administration are all important factors for maximising lure-enhanced fruit fly mating performance. These findings contribute to a better theoretical understanding of the evolution of fruit fly-lure interactions and may help improve fruit fly pest management via the Sterile Insect Technique through semiochemical-mediated enhancement of sterile male mating performance.

Photo: Bactrocera jarvisi, sourced from Fruit Fly ID Australia.