The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is targeted for control using the sterile insect technique (SIT). For this technique to succeed, released males must be able to compete with wild males for copulations. Male success is mediated by survival in the field often in adverse conditions. Manipulation of the postteneral environment experienced by sterile males before release has been shown to affect male sexual success and survival. The objectives of this study were to determine how various diets, combined with exposure to volatiles containing α-copaene, affect the ability of male Mediterranean fruit flies (from a wild and two unisexual strains) to withstand starvation. Accordingly, we maintained males on one of eight regimes combing a diet of either sugar, sugar and protein, a protein pulse or apricot, with or without the aroma of the sexual stimulant α-copaene. The apricot diet was associated with the lowest ability to resist starvation. The sugar-only diet was associated with the highest ability to resist starvation by sterile males. Exposure to α-copaene, in combination with the apricot diet, had a significant negative effect on the ability of males (from all strains) to resist starvation relative to other regimes examined. We conclude that the holding regimes that elicit the best sexual performance from males paradoxically also hasten their demise, probably by initiating an irreversible metabolic cascade. The search for the optimal prerelease regime continues.
- Sterile insect technique