P. Sookar, S. Bhagwant, M.N. Allymamod
Journal of Insect Science 14 (100), 1-12, (1 July 2014) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.014.100
KEYWORDS: biological control, mating behavior, entomopathogenic fungus
In Mauritius, the peach fruit fly, Bactrocera zonata Saunders (Diptera: Tephritidae), and the melon fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett), are the major pest of fruits and vegetables, respectively. Fruit growers make use of broad-spectrum insecticides to protect their crops from fruit fly attack. This method of fruit fly control is hazardous to the environment and is a threat to beneficial insects. The entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae (Metchnikoff) Sorokin (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae), which was isolated from the soils of Mauritius, was used to investigate whether fungus-treated adult fruit flies could transfer conidia to non-treated flies during mating, and whether fungal infection could have an effect on mating behavior, fecundity, and fertility of the two female fruit fly species. When treated male flies were maintained together with non-treated female flies, they were able to transmit infection to untreated females, resulting in high mortalities. Similarly, fungus-infected female flies mixed with untreated males also transmitted infections to males, also resulting in high mortalities. Infection by M. anisopliae also resulted in the reduction of the number of eggs produced by females of B. cucurbitae. The results suggest that M. anisopliae may have potential for use in integrated control programs of B. zonata and B. cucurbitae using the sterile insect technique in Mauritius.