Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 December 2013
Fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) are major pests worldwide. The sterile insect technique, where millions of flies are reared, sterilized by irradiation and then released, is one of the most successful and ecologically friendly methods of controlling populations of these pests. The mating behaviour of irradiated and non-irradiated flies has been compared in earlier studies, but there has been little attention paid to the anti-predator behaviour of mass-reared flies, especially with respect to wild flies. Tephritid flies perform a supination display to their jumping spider predators in order to deter attacks. In this study, we evaluated the possibility of using this display to determine the anti-predator capabilities of mass-reared irradiated, non-irradiated flies, and wild flies. We used an arena setup and observed bouts between jumping spiders (Phidippus audax Hentz) and male Mexican fruit flies (Anastrepha ludens Loew). We show that although all flies performed a supination display to their predator, wild flies were more likely to perform a display and were significantly more successful in avoiding attack than mass-reared flies. We suggest that this interaction can be used to develop a rapid realistic method of quality control in evaluating anti-predator abilities of mass-reared fruit flies.
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