The overwintering potential of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), in cold winter areas within its northern distribution is a key element in understanding its ecology. Recent studies have suggested that although originating in tropical Africa, the fly has become adapted to the cold weather that prevails within its northernmost areas of distribution. We address the question of whether the Mediterranean fruit fly has expanded its overwintering range to include the mountains of central Israel. Doing so would imply that the fly has developed either a behavioral or a physiological mechanism to cope with low temperature and/or damp conditions in combination with cold. We monitored adult populations year round, sampling fruit, calculating expected emergence days for overwintering flies, and studying adults captured within dense and sparse apple orchards. We also performed several manipulative experiments to study preimago ability to survive the winter under natural or seminatural conditions. The study was conducted in the central mountains of Israel at 700-m altitude from 1994 to 2003. Comparison experiments also were conducted at 400 m and at sea level. Our results show 1) no adults captured during the winter and spring, 2) an absence of new infestations during the winter and spring, and 3) inability of preimago stages to overwinter in the central mountains of Israel. Thus, we conclude that the fly does not overwinter in the central mountains of Israel. We discuss the ecological and applied significance of our findings.
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Vol. 97 • No. 1