Female medflies are fussy about their mates. Though the basis of a female's choice is not entirely understood by scientists, characteristic communications between the sexes are thought to play a role.
Male medflies claim their mating ground territories on individual leaves by depositing a pheromonal substance from the tip of the abdomen to the leaf. In addition, the male emits sounds by rapidly vibrating his wings while perched on the underside of his leaf.
Females watch this behavior from a distance of about 6 to 10 cm then begin to approach the male if he is deemed acceptable. As the female nears (within 3 to 5 mm) the male’s rapid wing flapping switches modes to what is called “fanning” in which he moves forward and backward, possibly to better direct the pheromones at the female. The male then proceeds with a side-to-side head motion. Slow motion analysis of the courtship shows female responses to the calling male. These inconspicuous responses, all occurring within 0.04 to 0.16 seconds, include touching the male with her head or front legs, jumping towards the male, short wing vibrations, and stretching just after mounting. A female may reject a male at any stage of the courtship sequence.
Males seek multiple mates (polygyny), whereas females tend to remate only if the initial mating was with a sterile male.
Mating System: polygynous
Adult medflies reach sexual maturity approximately five days after emerging from the pupal stage. Copulation occurs at any time of the day and both sexes are sexually active throughout the entire day. Medflies in tropical regions (warm temperatures year round) are capable of year-round breeding. A female medfly may lay up to 22 eggs per day, and possibly 800 eggs during her lifetime, though 300 is more typical. Because new eggs are constantly made throughout a female’s adult life, fecundity, or the number of eggs laid, is largely a function of the female’s lifespan.
Breeding interval: Female medflies usually mate once, then lay eggs over a period of several days or weeks before they die.
Breeding season: Medflies are capable of year-round breeding in tropical regions where the temperature remains warm. Otherwise, they breed during the warmer months of the year.
Range eggs per season: 200 to 800.
Average eggs per season: 300.
Range time to independence: 0 to 0 minutes.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 5 (low) days.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 5 (low) days.
Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous ; sperm-storing
Medflies do not provide care for their offspring after eggs have been laid. However, females do invest some resources in each egg, providing young with the nutrients and energy needed to hatch out as larvae.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female)
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- Thomas, M., J. Heppner, R. Woodruff, H. Weems, G. Steck. 2001. "Featured Creatures" (On-line). Accessed October 10, 2005 at http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/fruit/Mediterranean_fruit_fly.htm.