BACKGROUND: Tephritid fruit flies are recognized as the most economically important insect pest group, causing significant losses to horticultural crops globally. The sterile insect technique (SIT) is used to suppress or eradicate pest fruit flies in many countries. The provisioning of adult dietary or olfactory supplementation pre-release is commonly used to improve the mating performance of sterile male flies in SIT. This study on a major pest species, Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt), focused on improving mating performance by providing a semiochemical, raspberry ketone (RK), in the pre-release adult diet.
RESULTS: Survival was numerically higher for RK-supplemented males. Sexual maturity occurred 1 day earlier (from 7 to 6 days) in RK-supplemented sterile males. The mating latency period decreased with maturation age and was lower for RK-fed males. RK-supplemented sterile males increasingly mated with fertile females as they aged (10–19 days). The mating competitiveness of both RK-supplemented sterile males and RK-denied sterile males was greater than that of wild males.
CONCLUSION: The early sexual maturity and increased mating performance of RK-supplemented sterile males indicate that the effectiveness of SIT programmes can be increased through dietary supplementation with RK during the pre-release period.