Wild strains of fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) placed into laboratory rearing conditions are subjected to selection pressures caused by the diet, cages, density of flies, and other factors. Selection that changes mating behavior of the strain may result in less effective males released in sterile insect programs. Tests were performed to examine the effects of protein in diet and adult interactions on egg production and mating during sexual maturation of the Mexican fruit fly (Anastrepha ludens Loew) in laboratory cages. Flies were offspring of wild flies collected from Chiapas or Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and reared on Valencia oranges. Experiments demonstrated effects of yeast hydrolysate protein in adult diet and pairing with males on production of mature and immature eggs, numbers of females producing eggs, and mating with females aged 15 d. Addition of protein to 4% fructose in the adult diet approximately tripled mature egg production in females maintained for the total maturation period with an equal number of males. Females that matured without males produced ≈33% more-mature eggs when fed protein than those fed no protein. Total egg production of females matured without males and fed sugar only or sugar with protein was more than twice that of females matured with males. Tests to examine the effects of male and female diet separately on female egg production showed slightly higher egg production in females fed protein, or females paired with males fed protein, but these differences were not significant. The most definitive effects were that combining wild strain females and males in cages during maturation reduced egg production. This effect was greatest when flies were not fed protein.
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