The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), (medfly) is a polyphagous and cosmopolitan agricultural pest, targeted in many areas for control by the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). Our objective in the present study was to test the hypothesis that a bacterially enriched diet provided to sterile males will improve their sexual performance in competitive settings that emulate natural conditions. Specifically we determined how feeding on diets enriched with Klebsiella oxytoca affected the ability of sterile males to compete for wild females against wild males, their ability to inhibit female receptivity, and their survival. We found that enriching the sterile male diet with K.oxytoca significantly improved mating competitiveness in the laboratory and in field cages. In addition, bacterially enriched sterile males inhibited female receptivity more efficiently than sugar fed males and survived longer duration of starvation. We conclude that inoculating mass reared sterile flies with bacteria prior to their release is a valid approach to improve the efficacy of SIT.
- Ceratitis capitata
- Klebsiella oxytoca
- Mating competitiveness
- Sterile Insect Technique (SIT)