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Influence of habitat pattern on orientation during host fruit location in the tomato fruit fly, Neoceratitis cyanescens

Brévault T., Quilici S.. 2007. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 97 : p. 637-642.

DOI: 10.1017/S0007485307005330

Fruit flies have evolved mechanisms using olfactory and visual signals to find and recognize suitable host plants. The objective of the present study was to determine how habitat patterns may assist fruit flies in locating host plants and fruit. The tomato fruit fly, Neoceratitis cyanescens (Bezzi), was chosen as an example of a specialized fruit fly, attacking plants of the Solanaceae family. A series of experiments was conducted in an outdoor field cage wherein flies were released and captured on sticky orange and yellow spheres displayed in pairs within or above potted host or non-host plants. Bright orange spheres mimicking host fruit were significantly more attractive than yellow spheres only when placed within the canopy of host plants and not when either within non-host plants or above both types of plants. Additional experiments combining sets of host and non-host plants in the same cage, or spraying leaf extract of host plant (bug weed) on non-host plants showed that volatile cues emitted by the foliage of host plants may influence the visual response of flies in attracting mature females engaged in a searching behaviour for a laying site and in assisting them to find the host fruit. Moreover, the response was specific to mature females with a high oviposition drive because starved mature females, immature females and males showed no significant preference for orange spheres. Olfactory signals emitted by the host foliage could be an indicator of an appropriate habitat, leading flies to engage in searching for a visual image.
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