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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mayaguez, Puerto Rico » Tropical Crops and Germplasm Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #202519


item Jenkins, David
item Goenaga, Ricardo

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/9/2007
Publication Date: 6/4/2007
Citation: Jenkins, D., Goenaga, R. 2007. Host status of mamey sapote, Pouteria sapota (sapotaceae), to the West Indian Fruit Fly, Anastrepha obliqua (diptera:tephritidae) in Puerto Rico. Florida Entomologist. 90(2):384-388.

Interpretive Summary: The increase in ethnic diversity in the U.S. as well as changes in the diet of the public for health considerations have opened a large market for tropical fruits. Mamey sapote is a fruit that is prized by many ethnic groups in the Continental U.S. which represent a potential market for growers of this fruit. However, there are understandable concerns over the importation of an insect species that does not yet occur in the Continental U.S. The West Indian fruit fly is present in Puerto Rico, but not in the continental U.S. hence, there are restrictions on the importation of mamey sapote to avoid the accidental introduction of this fly. This was a rigorous investigation of the probability of mamey sapote fruit being infested by this fly. We collected more than 1200 mature fruit from two different locations and did not recover a single adult fly from any of these fruits (identical methods conducted on other fruit, such as mangoes, yield large numbers of adults). Furthermore, mamey sapote fruits were exposed to female fruit flies for two days. No eggs, larvae, or adults were recovered from any of these fruit, while mangoes, identically exposed, yielded large numbers of fruit flies. We conclude that the importation of mamey sapote to the continental U.S. represents little threat of accidental importation of the West Indian fruit fly. Removal of current importation restrictions would greatly benefit the specialty fruit growers in Puerto Rico and would enrich the market for exotic fruits in the U.S.

Technical Abstract: The authors evaluated the host status of mamey sapote, Pouteria sapota (Sapotaceae) to Anastrepha obliqua by collecting mature fruits and monitoring them for the emergence of larval Tephritidae. Fruits were also scarred and placed in cages with female A. obliqua and monitored for the emergence of larvae and adults. Multi-lure traps baited with putrescine and ammonium acetate were used to compare the number of flies in orchards of mamey sapote to the number of flies in nearby orchards of carambola (Averrhoa carambola: Oxalidaceae). Although there are a number of references citing mamey sapote as a host of A. obliqua we only reared 2 larvae from hundreds of fruits and these larvae did not survive to adulthood. We were not able to induce oviposition by fruit flies when presented with scarred mamey sapote. Abundance in orchards based on trapping indicates that flies are very rarely encountered in orchards of mamey sapote compared with orchards of carambola. We conclude that in Puerto Rico mamey sapote has a very low (undetectable) rate of infestation by fruit flies in the family Tephritidae.