The release of sterile males is a key component of an areawide program to eradicate the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), from Guatemala and southern Mexico. The objective of our study was to assess the effects of adult diet, exposure to ginger root oil (Zingiber officinale Roscoe), and elevation on the mating competitiveness of the sterile males used in an areawide program. Sterile males were maintained on a protein-sugar (protein-fed) or a sugar-only (protein-deprived) diet and were exposed (for 4 h 1 d before testing) or not exposed to ginger root oil. In field-cage trials conducted at a high (1,500 m) and low (700 m) site, we monitored the influence of these treatments on the mating success of sterile males in competition with wild males (reared exclusively on the protein-sugar diet and without ginger root oil exposure) for wild females. Elevation and ginger root oil exposure had significant effects, with sterile males having higher mating success at the low-elevation site and ginger root oil-exposed males having greater success than ginger root oil-deprived males at both sites. Diet did not have a significant overall effect, and its influence varied with elevation (dietary protein seemed to provide an advantage at the high-elevation site but not at the low-elevation site). Possible implications of these findings for eradication programs against the Mediterranean fruit fly are discussed.
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Vol. 96 • No. 4