Abstract

The western cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis indifferens Curran, infests introduced, domesticated sweet [Prunus avium (L.) L.], and tart cherries (Prunus cerasus L.) as well as native bitter cherry, Prunus emarginata (Douglas) Eaton. Bitter cherries are smaller than sweet and tart cherries and this could affect various life history traits of flies. The objectives of the current study were to determine 1) if body size and egg loads of flies infesting sweet, tart, and bitter cherries differ from one another; and 2) if any observed body size differences are genetically based or caused by the host fruit environment. Pupae and adults of both sexes reared from larval-infested sweet and tart cherries collected in Washington and Montana were larger than those reared from bitter cherries. In addition, flies of both sexes caught on traps in sweet and tart cherry trees were larger than those caught in bitter cherry trees and females trapped from sweet and tart cherry trees had 54.0-98.8% more eggs. The progeny of flies from naturally-infested sweet and bitter cherries reared for one generation in the laboratory on sweet cherry did not differ in size. The same also was true for progeny of sweet and bitter cherry flies reared in the field on bitter cherry. The results suggest that the larger body sizes of flies from sweet and tart cherries than bitter cherries in the field are caused by host fruit and not genetic factors.

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