Spatial patterns of sterile Mediterranean fruit fly dispersal

Sagi Gavriel*, Yoav Gazit, Adrian Leach, John Mumford, Boaz Yuval

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The success of the sterile insect technique (SIT) for the control of the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), depends largely on the ability of sterile flies to spread in the target area and compete with the wild males for wild females. Our objectives in the present study were three-fold: (1) to evaluate the dispersal ability of sterile male medflies and compare their spatial dispersion patterns with that of wild males, (2) to evaluate how different release methods affect subsequent spatial dispersal, and (3) to determine whether manipulating the pre-release diet of sterile males affects their dispersal. To achieve these objectives, we conducted three experiments in the field where we quantified and analyzed the spatial and temporal dispersal patterns of sterile medflies and the dispersion of resident wild males. Overall, ca. 5% of the released sterile flies were recaptured 100m from the release point, and ca. 2% were recaptured 200m from the release point. The released flies rarely survived longer than 5-7days. We repeatedly found that the spatial dispersion patterns of sterile males significantly correlated with those of wild males. Release methods strongly affected subsequent fly dispersal in the field as significantly more flies were recaptured following a scattered release vs. a central one. Finally, we show that enriching sterile fly pre-release diet with protein did not affect subsequent dispersal in the field. We conclude that sterile males are able to match the dispersion patterns of wild males, an outcome that is highly important for SIT success. Large releases from central points distant from each other may leave many areas uncovered. Accordingly, scattered releases, repeated twice a week, will provide better coverage of all available aggregations sites. The spatial performance of protein-fed males suggests that pre-release diet amendments may be used without detriment as a sexual stimulant in SIT programs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Ceratitis capitata
  • Diptera
  • Dispersion
  • Mark-release-recapture
  • Medfly
  • Nutritional ecology
  • SIT
  • Sterile insect technique
  • Tephritidae


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