Sexual communication in Tephritidae: a focus on species infesting soft fruits


Abstract: Tephritidae, also known as the true fruit flies, comprise a huge number of key agricultural pests, causing both quantitative and qualitative crop losses. Investigating mating sequences of these flies could help to unveil mate choice dynamics, adding information to improve behaviour-based control tools. Here we critically review knowledge about sexual communication and related behaviours in Tephritidae, with a special focus on agricultural pests of soft fruits. We examine features and the role of male-male combat in lek sites, cues affecting mating dynamics, and some fitness-promoting female behaviours [mainly female-female aggressive interactions on fruits and oviposition marking pheromones (OMPs)] that occur at oviposition sites. We outline future perspectives arising from knowledge about sexual communication for Integrated Pest Management programs for Tephritidae pests infesting soft fruits. Sexually selected traits are frequently good indicators of male fitness and knowledge of sexual selection processes may contribute to the improvement of Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) programs. Furthermore, males’ exposure to parapheromones can enhance the mating success of sterile flies used in SIT programs. Lastly, the development of IPM strategies based on OMP application could help to improve eco-friendly control approaches against Tephritidae infesting soft fruits.

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