April 13, 2023 at 4:34 pm | Updated April 13, 2023 at 4:34 pm | 3 min read
In recent years, fruit fly infestations have posed significant challenges to the agricultural industry, particularly fruit production. Among the problematic species, the Melon Fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae) and the Oriental Fruit Fly (B. dorsalis) have been particularly detrimental. Dr. Grant McQuate, a researcher at the USDA in Hilo, Hawaii, has devoted his career to understanding the attraction, ecology, and suppression of these fruit flies. In a groundbreaking study, Dr. McQuate and his team evaluated the attractiveness of different plants as roosting hosts for these fruit fly species, using the CI-203 Handheld Laser Leaf Area Meter as a critical tool in their research.
The Significance of Roosting Hosts in Fruit Fly Suppression
Bait spray applications are common for preventing fruit fly larvae infection in papaya crops. However, establishing preferred roosting hosts as crop borders can significantly improve suppression efficiency for both the Melon and Oriental Fruit Fly species. By providing ideal sites for bait spray applications, these preferred roosting hosts can help reduce the population of these pests and, consequently, their impact on fruit production.
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The Study and the CI-203 Handheld Laser Leaf Area Meter
Dr. McQuate’s study aimed to evaluate the relative attractiveness of three different plant species as roosting hosts:
- Cassava (Manihot esculenta)
- Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
- Corn (Zea mays)
The CI-203 Handheld Laser Leaf Area Meter played a crucial role in standardizing the results of fruit fly roosting numbers by leaf area. By accurately measuring the leaf area of each plant species, the researchers could determine the attractiveness of the roosting hosts and compare them fairly.
The CI-203 Portable Laser Leaf Area Meter was ideal for this purpose, as it allows for non-destructive measurement of thin, long leaves, such as those of corn plants. The team approximated measurements using leaf length, maximum width, and a correction factor for the cassava and castor bean leaf area. These calculations were obtained using the CI-203 Conveyor Attachment.
Key Findings and Implications for the Future
The study found castor beans attracted the highest number of fruit fly species, followed by cassava, corn, and blank treatments. However, when adjusted for total leaf area, the catch numbers for cassava and castor beans were not significantly different. This indicates cassava, a plant with more persistent foliage than annual crops, is a comparably effective roosting host to the traditional castor bean.
The results of Dr. McQuate’s study open up new avenues for further research. Future studies should examine the relative attractiveness of different plant species at various phenology stages, the effect of sexual maturity or protein status on roosting host preferences, and the efficacy of different border densities and patterns for roosting hosts. The CI-203 Handheld Laser Leaf Area Meter, with its precise and non-destructive measurement capabilities, will continue to play a vital role in advancing our understanding of fruit fly suppression and improving agricultural practices.
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