New Fruit Fly Lure and Trap
May 23, 2001
A fruit fly lure and trap that combines
chemical and visual stimuli to more effectively control fruit flies--including
the Mediterranean fruit fly, or medfly--has been patented by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
in Miami, Fla. The research was led by chemist Robert Heath at the
Subtropical Exotic Plant Insect Research Unit, Miami.
The USDAs Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service estimates that the medfly alone--not counting the damage
inflicted by other fruit flies--would generate agricultural losses of about
$1.5 billion a year if it were to become established in the continental United
States. Those losses would be the result of export sanctions, lost markets,
treatment costs, reduced crop yields, deformities and premature fruit drop.
The chemical stimulus in the new trap is derived from three chemicals that
have been isolated from food baits: ammonia, putrescine and trimethylamine. The
chemicals lure the flies into the trap, where they are retained and induced to
feed on a panel that contains a feeding stimulant and toxicant.
The cylindrical shape of the trap provides the visual stimulus by mimicking
the three- dimensionality of host fruit. Clear panels at the top and bottom
take advantage of the flies instinctive desire to move towards light,
where a lethal sugary toxicant awaits them.
The adult female medfly damages ripe fruit by making a hole and depositing
her eggs under the skin of the fruit. Once the larvae hatch, they begin to
satisfy their ravenous appetites by feeding on the pulp inside the fruit,
rendering it unfit for human consumption.
As early as 1929, the Mediterranean fruit fly--Ceratitis
capitata--had made its mark in fruit orchards in Florida. After apparently
being eradicated, it was spotted again in 1956. Since then, periodic
infestations have occurred in Florida, California and Texas.
An article describing this research in greater detail appears in the May
issue of Agricultural
Research, ARS monthly magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.
Scientific contact: Robert R. Heath, ARS
Subtropical Horticultural Research Laboratory, Miami, Fla.; phone (305)
254-3643, fax (305) 238-9330, firstname.lastname@example.org.