USDA Scientists Develop Alluring Bait for
Mexican Fruit Flies
By Tara Weaver
November 19, 1998
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Nov.
19--Mexican fruit flies, important quarantine pests of citrus and many
other crops, are strongly attracted to a new lure developed by scientists based
here at the Agricultural Research
"The new synthetic lure resembles the pest's natural protein food
source," said ARS administrator Floyd P. Horn. "Improved lures and
traps for fruit flies can enable action agencies to detect their invasions
sooner and act sooner to prevent these pests from spreading." ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agricultures chief
Female Mexican fruit flies lay eggs in at least 36 different fruits. In the
U.S., the pests could potentially cost $1.4 billion a year in export and crop
yield losses and treatment expenses.
"Mexican fruit flies periodically cross the Mexican border to infest
U.S. fruit orchards, most often in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas,"
Horn said. Currently, however, USDA and the state of California are cooperating
to quell an infestation in San Diego County in California.
The new lure has three chemical components: ammonium acetate, putrescine and
methyl butanol. ARS chemist Robert R. Heath and entomologist Nancy D.
Epsky developed it at the agency's Center
for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville.
ARS has filed for patent protection.
In several years of field trials in Guatemala, ARS scientists compared
sticky cylindrical traps baited with the new lure and glass McPhail traps
baited with liquid protein currently used to detect fruit flies.
The new three-component lure caught almost twice as many insects as
the standard lure and was more effective at capturing both males and
females, Heath said. Compared to the sticky trap, McPhail traps are
fragile and cumbersome, he added.
Heath and Epsky have developed several other similar lures. Among them is a
different three-component lure containing
ammonium acetate, putrescine and trimethylamine. It was recently approved for
official use in the Mediterranean fruit fly eradication program in Florida.
Scientific contact: Robert R. Heath, Chemistry
Research Unit, ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary
Entomology, Gainesville, Fla., phone (352) 374-5735, fax (352) 374-5859,