The olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae (Gmelin) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is an invasive pest of olives (Olea spp.) in the United States. The objectives of this study were to determine whether B. oleae exhibits ovipositional preference under California field conditions similar to that demonstrated in European populations and whether the resulting larvae fare better in preferred varieties. Female B. oleae exhibited strong ovipositional preference for certain varieties of the domesticated olive, Olea europaea L, and the resulting larvae performed better by some measures in preferred varieties than in lesser preferred varieties. Ovipositional preference was observed in the field from 2003 to 2005, and laboratory assays were conducted to evaluate larval performance in 2005 and 2006. Among the olive varieties tested, Sevillano, Manzanillo, and Mission olives were the most heavily infested during three consecutive years. The larval performance measurements used were pupal yield, pupal weight, larval developmental time, and pupal emergence time. Ovipositional preference and pupal yield do not seem associated. There were significant differences in pupal emergence time, but these also measures did not reflect ovipositional preference. Two measures on performance did seem related to ovipositional preference; there were significant effects of variety on pupal weight and larval developmental time. Pupae developing in Manzanillo and Sevillano olives were heavier than those developing in less preferred varieties, and larval developmental time was significantly shorter in Sevillano olives relative to the other varieties. Oviposition preference and enhanced larval performance has implications for the pest status of this invasive insect in California.
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Vol. 101 • No. 3