The sterile insect technique (SIT) is a non-chemical approach used to control major pests from several insect families, including Tephritidae, and entails the mass-release of sterile insects that reduce fertility of wild populations. For SIT to succeed, released sterile males must mature and compete with wild males to mate with wild females. To reach sexual maturity, the Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Diptera: Tephritidae), must obtain adequate nutrition after adult emergence; however, in current SIT programs sterile B. tryoni receive a pre-release diet that lacks key nutrients required to sustain sexual development. The chief objective of this study was to determine whether pre-release yeast hydrolysate (YH) supplements affect the persistence and abundance of sexually mature sterile male B. tryoni under field conditions. Experiments were run in outdoor cages under conditions of low and high environmental stress that differed markedly in temperature and humidity, and in the field. Under low environmental stress conditions, survival of sterile B. tryoni was monitored in cages under three diet treatments: (i) sugar only, (ii) sugar plus YH or (iii) sugar plus YH for 48 h and sugar only thereafter. Under high environmental stress conditions survival of sterile B. tryoni was monitored in cages under four diet treatments: (i) white sugar only, (ii) brown sugar only, (iii) white sugar plus YH and (iv) brown sugar plus YH. In a replicated field study, we released colour-marked sterile B. tryoni from two diet regimes, YH-supplemented or YH-deprived, and monitored abundance of sexually mature males. In the low-stress cage study, there was no effect of diet, although overall females lived longer than males. In the high stress cage study, mortality was lower for YH-fed flies than YH-deprived flies and females lived longer than males. In the field, YH supplementation resulted in higher abundance of sexually mature sterile males, with 1.2 YH-fed flies trapped for every YH-deprived fly trapped. Under field conditions, YH supplementation can increase over-flooding ratios and hence may improve the effectiveness of SIT programmes.
- sterile insect technique