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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Chemical Biology of Insect and Plant Signaling Systems

Location: Chemistry Research

Title: Effect of methoprene application, adult food and feeding duration on male melon fly starvation survival

item Haq, I
item Caceres, C
item Liedo, P
item Soriano, D
item Jessup, A
item Hendrichs, J
item Teal, Peter
item Robinson, A

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/12/2010
Publication Date: 8/8/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Haq, I., Caceres, C., Liedo, P., Soriano, D., Jessup, A., Hendrichs, J., Teal, P.E., Robinson, A.S. 2012. Effect of methoprene application, adult food and feeding duration on male melon fly starvation survival. Journal of Applied Entomology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0418.2010.01575.x.

Interpretive Summary: Mellon flies are quarantine pests of significant importance to crops throughout the world. One way to control this pest is the sterile insect technique (SIT). In which the natural population of pests is flooded by releasing sterile males who mate with wild females. Application of methoprene and access to protein in the adult diet has been shown to enhance mating success by sterile males but until now there was no information on if adding these treatments had negative effects on the life span of males. Scientists at the Center for Medical Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS, Gainesville Florida, in collaboration with scientists at Insect Pest Control Section, Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear, Techniques in Food and Agriculture Vienna, Austria, and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Tapachula, Mexico have been studying how adding protein to the diet and applying methoprene affects longevity of the melon fly. They have discovered neither affects adult male longevity. This result is important for application of these technologies to improving the Sterile Insect Technique because treated males have higher sexual success and reach sexual maturity several days earlier than untreated males and live just as long as untreated males.

Technical Abstract: The application of methoprene and access to protein in adult diet has been shown to enhance mating success in male melon fly Bactrocera cucurbitae Coquillett (Diptera: Tephritidae), supporting their incorporation into operational area-wide programmes integrating the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of methoprene, diet including protein and feeding days on male starvation survival to determine the minimum number of feeding days required prior to male release in the field. The study was performed in the laboratory by treating males with (i) both protein and methoprene (M+P+), (ii) only protein (M-P+), (iii) only methoprene (M+P-) or (iv) untreated (M-P-). The males were starved after exposure for an increasing number of days (1–7) to their respective treatment. Mean longevity was highest after 3-day post-emergence feeding duration for M+P+, M+P- and M-P- males, but 4 days of feeding for M-P+ males. Additional feeding days after 4 days, did not increase male survival and feeding for 7 days decreased starvation survival of sugar-fed males. Application of methoprene and/or access to diet including protein had no adverse effect on starvation survival but feeding duration had a significant positive effect on starvation survival. To the contrary, the current study provides a strong evidence for the benefits of methoprene application and protein incorporation into the adult diet of sterile males. Treated males achieve higher sexual success, reach sexual development several days earlier, and are therefore much closer to sexual maturity when released in SIT action programmes after being held in the fly emergence and release facility for a post-emergence feeding duration of at least 3 days.

Last Modified: 08/16/2017
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