Trapping Female Medflies with Male Medflies, Sound, Pheromone, and Combinations in a Wind Tunnel
Mentor: Richard Mankin
Abstract: Medflies are important pests of citrus, coffee, and other crops in tropical and subtropical regions. Efficient traps are needed to detect these pests in the mainland US and other areas where they have not yet spread. Male medflies attract females by emitting sex pheromone from abdominal glands. Sex pheromone lures have been developed to capture female medflies, but they have not yet proven to be efficient baits in trapping systems. One possible way to improve the efficiency of these lures is to broadcast the wing-fanning sounds that males produce while they are emitting sex pheromone.
To test this hypothesis, I conducted a series of bioassays in a wind tunnel. I placed an adhesive-covered yellow ball at the upwind end and released groups of 30 females at the downwind end. In different tests, I compared the numbers of females trapped by 1) the ball alone, 2) the ball with a nearby sex pheromone lure, 3) the ball with a nearby speaker broadcasting wing-buzzing sounds, 4) the ball with a nearby mesh ball holding 10 calling males, and several different combinations of 1-4. We have not gathered enough data for statistical significance, but the balls near the 10 calling males, the broadcasting speaker, and the pheromone, with or without the speaker, all caught more females than the sticky ball alone.
Isaiah is preparing the wind tunnel for a female medfly trapping experiment.
Closeup of yellow sticky ball, speaker, and pheromone/male medfly container used as stimuli in trapping experiments.