Mating competitiveness and sterility induction into cohorts of wild Anastrepha ludens (Loew) (Diptera: Tephritidae) was compared among wild and laboratory flies reared for use in the sterile insect technique Mexican program. Laboratory flies stemming from an 11-yr-old bisexual strain were either not irradiated, irradiated at 3 krad (low dose), or irradiated at 8 krad. In 30 by 30 by 30-cm Plexiglas cages, where a cohort of laboratory flies (male and female) irradiated at different doses (0, 3, and 8 krad) was introduced with a cohort of wild flies, males and females of each type mated randomly among themselves. Compared with nonirradiated laboratory and wild males, irradiated males, irrespective of dose (3 or 8 krad), induced shorter refractory periods and greater mating frequency in wild females. Nevertheless, laboratory flies irradiated at a low dose induced greater sterility into cohorts of wild flies than laboratory flies irradiated at a high dose. In a 3 by 3 by 3-m walk-in cage, wild males gained significantly more matings with wild females than nonirradiated and irradiated laboratory males a finding that revealed a strong effect of strain on mating performance. Mating incompatibility of the laboratory strain might have obscured the effect of reduced irradiation doses on male mating performance in the walk-in cage. Our results highlight an urgent need to replace the A. ludens strain currently used by the Mexican fruit fly eradication campaign and at least suggest that reducing irradiation doses result in an increase in sterility induction in wild populations.
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Vol. 98 • No. 5