Medfly Mating Behavior Studies under Field Cage Conditions


To develop standard reproducible tests of medfly mating behavior under field cage conditions for inclusion in existing process and product quality control tests for medfly SIT.


Quality control of mass-reared medflies for use in SIT programmes is essential to prevent the production and use of insects which may not be of sufficient quality to compete with wild target medfly strains. Medfly mating behaviour is complex, involving male aggregations in so called "leks" or calling arenas within host tree foliage, where males engage in aggressive encounters, release pheromone to attract females, and court approaching females with an elaborate courtship behaviour involving also sound and visual cues. Matings occur only as a result of female choice and receptive females apparently assess male "quality" by visiting various signalling and courting males on their leaf territories before deciding on which male to mate.

Based on improved field cage studies, as well as slow motion video (and audio) recordings, subsequent analysis of the observations utilizing computer software and quantitative analysis of male and female medfly courtship behaviour, mating tests are devised to assess the mating capacity and sexual compatibility of mass reared medfly strains with respective wild target strains. Furthermore, rankings for sexual compatibility among different medfly populations from different geographic regions and/or with different genetic or mass-rearing backgrounds will be established.

The validity of these tests was confirmed by a series of specifically designed tests conducted at different locations under different conditions. The tests were incorporated into the "FAO/IAEA/USDA Manual for Product Quality Control and Shipping Procedures for Sterile Mass-Reared Tephritid Fruit Flies".


Seven Contract Holders from: Argentina, Costa Rica, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, and two Agreement Holders from: France and the United States.


  • The final Evaluation Report summarizes achievements under this five-year CRP (1996-2000).
  • The Final Proceedings of this CRP were published in a special issue of the journal Florida Entomologist and include a collection of 10 peer-reviewed scientific publications.