Tephritid fruit flies are serious pests in Mauritius, of which Bactrocera zonata (Saunders) (Diptera: Tephritidae) is one. One of the pathogens of fruit flies is Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin; the introduction of this entomopathogen into the wild fly population would be beneficial for suppression of fruit fly populations. Five releases were made to study the dispersal behaviour and survival of sterile B. zonata males either treated or untreated with dry conidia of B. bassiana, in vegetable plantations bordered with papaya and mango trees in northern Mauritius from April 2010 to December 2012. The flies used were reared for ≈172 generations in the laboratory. Results showed that the dispersal behaviour and post-release survival were different for the two types of sterile males. Recapture rates of B. bassiana-treated sterile males (2.0 ± 1.4 %) were significantly lower than those of untreated flies (6.2 ± 5.5 %). However, the recapture rates for both types of males were within acceptable limits for release—recapture studies with mass-reared and irradiated fruit flies. Up to day 4 after release the percentage recovery of sterile B. zonata males untreated and treated with B. bassiana was 76 % and 81 %, respectively; 90 % of the recovered sterile flies from both groups were recovered up to 100 m from the release point, and only 4 % at a distance between 150 m and 200 m from the release point. Our results suggest that sterile B. zonata males could potentially be used as vectors of B. bassiana to supplement suppression of this pest in a sterile insect release programme.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3