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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Miami, Florida » Subtropical Horticulture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #362597

Research Project: Methyl Bromide Replacement: Mitigation of the Invasive Pest Threat from the American Tropics and Subtropics

Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research

Title: Tea tree essential oil: a source of potential new attractants for Mediterranean fruit fly

item Tabanca, Nurhayat
item Epsky, Nancy
item NIOGRET, JEROME - Niogret Ecology Consulting
item Kendra, Paul

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/29/2019
Publication Date: 9/9/2019
Citation: Tabanca, N., Epsky, N.D., Niogret, J., Kendra, P.E. 2019. Tea tree essential oil: a source of potential new attractants for Mediterranean fruit fly. Meeting Abstract. 50th International Symposium on Essential Oils. September 9-11, Vienna, Austria.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is one of the most important agricultural pests worldwide due to the large number of fruit and vegetable crops vulnerable to attack. Current management practices often rely on the application of pesticides, which may have a negative impact on the environment and non-target organisms (e.g. beneficial insects). Consequently, there is a need for more environmentally friendly pest management strategies. Plant essential oils are rich sources of terpenoids, many of which function as natural insect attractants, repellents, or other behavior-modifying kairomones. In short-range laboratory bioassays, we observed that male C. capitata are highly attracted to the essential oils from tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden & Betche) Cheel, Myrtaceae). Therefore, we used thin-layer chromatography (TLC) to separate tea tree oil into multiple fractions, and then assayed each fraction to determine if it contained active constituents responsible for attraction. Of the five initial TLC fractions, two were found to be bioactive. The chemical composition of tea tree essential oil and subfractions were analyzed by gas chromatography–flame ionization detection (GC–FID) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Additionally, electroantennography (EAG) was used to quantify male olfactory response to each of the fractions. This study identified potential new attractants that may aid in the development of environmentally sound management strategies for Mediterranean fruit fly.