Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2003
Publication Date: 3/1/2003
Citation: Lopez, M., Sivinski, J.M., Rendon, P., Holler, T., Bloem, K., Copeland, R., Aluja, M. 2003. Colonization of Fopius ceratitivorus, A Newly Discovered African Egg-Pupal Parasitoid (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) of Ceratitis Capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae). Florida Entomologist. 86(1):53-60.
Interpretive Summary: The Mediterranean fruit fly attacks hundreds of species of fruits and vegetables and is responsible for trade embargos around the world. Pest populations in Guatemala threaten to invade Mexico and ultimately the United States, but this is prevented by insecticide bait sprays and the release of sterile male medflies. Biological control promises to improve suppression, particularly in areas such as cities, national parks and organic farms where repeated insecticide sprays are impractical. Until now the parasitoids used for medfly control had not been originally collected from medflies in their African center of origin. However, scientists from USDA-ARS in collaboration with colleagues from Texas A&M University, the University of Hawaii and the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (Nairobi, Kenya) have collected and transported new species of true medfly parasitoids to a recently constructed quarantine facility in Guatemala. One of these, Fopius ceratitivorus, was found to attack the vulnerable eggs of its host and may be particularly useful as a biological control agent. Future research will determine if this parasitoid will attack non target flies and be able to persist in the coffee-growing environments in Central America.
Technical Abstract: Fopius ceratitivorus Wharton is a recently discovered braconid parasitoid of the Mediterranean fruit fly (= medfly), Ceratitis capitata (Wied.). Unlike other parasitoids previously used in medfly biological control, F. ceratitivorus was originally collected from medfly in its purported region of origin, east Africa. Shipments of tephritid pupae from Kenya to a newly constructed quarantine facility in Guatemala yielded both F. ceratitivorus and its congener F. caudatus (Szèpligeti). Only the former species was successfully colonized through the use of medfly infested coffee berries. In the process of colonization it was determined that F. ceratitivorus oviposited into the eggs and recently hatched larvae of medflies and completed development in the hosts' puparia. This is a relatively rare behavior among fruit fly parasitoids and, because tephritid eggs near the surface of fruits are particularly vulnerable to attack, one that might contribute to its success as a biological control agent.