Submitted to: Journal of Insect Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 13, 2005
Publication Date: April 15, 2006
Citation: Pereira, R., Teal, P.E., Sivinski, J.M., Dueben, B.D. 2006. Influence of male presence on sexual maturation in female Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa (Diptera:Tephritidae). Journal of Insect Behavior. 19(1):31-43. Interpretive Summary: Tephritid fruit flies consume hundreds of fruits and vegetables, and cause export restrictions wherever they occur. One of the standard means for their control is the Sterile Insect technique, where large numbers of males are mass-reared, sterilized and then released to mate with wild females. The developmental rate of the flies determines, in part, the expense of the technique; both in terms of numbers produced over a period of time and in the facilities needed to hold flies prior to their sexual maturation. Scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (Gainesville, Florida) found that male pheromones speed up the sexual maturation of females in wild, but not long-domesticated, flies. If the underlying cause of this accelerated development can be identified it may be possible to incorporate these substances into mass rearing programs and so cut costs.
Technical Abstract: The presence of males was shown to affect the rate of female ovarian development in the Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa (Loew). Virgin females were maintained either in the absence or presence of males. Those sharing a common space with males had either visual contact with the opposite sex or no visual contact. Three strains of Caribbean fruit fly were tested: mass-reared strain, flies in colony for more than 20 years; semi-wild strain, flies recently adapted to the laboratory conditions (for about 12 months) and a wild strain collected in the field. We found that: (1) Mass reared, semi-wild, and wild strains had different female maturation rates, as measured by the presence of mature oocytes, regardless of male presence. (2) Male presence accelerated maturation in wild females and to lesser extent in semi-wild flies, but had no effect on the long-domesticated mass reared strain. (3) The visual presence of males did not influence female maturation. We discuss the adaptive significance of facultative ovarian maturation and the use of male-produced cues to regulate sexual development, and comment on the rapid rate of selection on female maturation under mass-rearing conditions.