Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/13/2020
Publication Date: 9/28/2020
Citation: Manoukis, N., Carvalho, L.A. 2020. Flight burst duration as an indicator of flight ability and physical fitness in two species of Tephritid fruit flies. Journal of Insect Science. 20(5). Article 11. https://doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/ieaa095.
Interpretive Summary: This paper describes a way to test the ability of pest fruit flies to fly and their general physical fitness. It works by tethering individual insects and timing how long they are able to beat their wings (flight burst duration). This is a useful measure because these pests are often mass reared and sterilized/released under what is called "Sterile Insect Technique". Once released, sterile mass-reared males mate with wild females and can crash their population because resulting eggs are inviable. Higher quality sterile males are important to making these programs work efficiently, and this technique can be used for this goal and for research.
Technical Abstract: We introduce a novel method to quantify flight ability and physical fitness of individual fruit flies which we term “Flight Burst Duration” (FBD). This consists of tethering individual insects by the dorsal thorax using a vacuum and measuring the length of time the insect beats its wings while suspended off a surface. Consecutive measurements with Bactrocera dorsalis and Zeugodacus cucurbitae in the same day and across days indicate that a single measurement is sufficient, and that FBD is a consistent and repeatable. Insects under stress from starvation displayed shorter FBD over time, suggesting that the measure also relates to the physical condition or survival fitness of the individual. Though somewhat laborious and time-consuming, we propose that FBD can be useful for research studies requiring individual-level phenome data and for obtaining estimates of dispersive movement for insects.