Positive and negative cues influencing Q-fly host choice

We would like to recommend the reading of the new paper that Dr Rehan Silva and Prof. Anthony Clarke recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Read the publication.

"Aversive responses of Queensland fruit flies towards larval-infested fruits are modified by fruit quality and prior experience"

Rehan Silva & Anthony R. Clarke


For frugivorous fruit flies, the decision whether to accept or reject a host fruit for oviposition is influenced by a variety of fruit quality factors. Additionally, ovipositing flies may be influenced by the presence of eggs or larvae already within the host fruit. Species of the genus Bactrocera have been shown to avoid ovipositing into larval-infested fruits. However, the observed oviposition aversion in Bactrocera is variable, with some studies showing that deterrence to infested fruits may not always occur, but what may influence such variation is unknown. Using the polyphagous fruit fly Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt), we tested if the quality of host fruit for offspring survival was a factor in influencing a female fly’s decision whether to oviposit or not into larval-infested fruits. In both small cages and field cages, ovipositing B. tryoni did not discriminate between infested and non-infested high-quality fruits. However, when given a choice between poor-quality infested and non-infested fruits, significantly more flies selected and oviposited in non-infested fruits. For example, B. tryoni did not discriminate between infested and non-infested guava (a fruit in which there is high offspring survival), but more flies selected and oviposited on non-infested than on infested green apples (a fruit in which there is poor offspring survival). Small cage experiments also showed that prior oviposition experience on a larval-infested host negated the previously observed aversive response for that particular infested host fruit. The results are discussed in the light of a long recognised, but often ignored fact that herbivore host choice is about the sum of both the positive and negative cues received from the host.