Oviposition site guarding by male walnut flies and its possible consequences for mating success

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Field studies showed that male Rhagoletis juglandis and R. boycei flies guard egg-laying punctures (and the eggs within) on host walnut (Juglans major) fruit and defend those sites from conspecific and heterospecific males. In field experiments with artificially punctured fruit,as well as field observations on unmanipulated fruit, males were consistently more likely to be sighted and stayed longer on damaged fruit than on undamaged fruit. On artificially punctured fruit, they consistently spent more time in the vicinity of a puncture than expected by chance alone. Males together on damaged fruit were more likely to engage in contests over those fruit than males together on undamaged fruit. Copulations were consistently more frequent for either species on damaged than undamaged fruit, both in observations of unmanipulated fruit and in artificial puncture experiments. Analyses which controlled for the longer male residence time on damaged fruit suggested strongly that copulations were consistently achieved at higher per capita rates on damaged than on undamaged fruit, indicating that puncture-guarding functions to increase access to females. An exception to the pattern in male mating success was noted at a site where both species used host fruit on the same trees. In this case, R. juglandis males were only slightly more common on punctured fruit than on control fruit and male success in copulation did not differ significantly between the two types of fruit. This anomalous result was apparently due to an almost absolute advantage enjoyed by R. boycei males in on-fruit contests with R. juglandis males. A likely basis for improvements in mating success associated with puncture guarding was a propensity for females to deposit eggs into existing punctures. Both in observations of unmanipulated fruit and in artificial puncture experiments, females consistently attempted oviposition more often in damaged than undamaged fruit. In artificial puncture experiments, both species at both sites deposited most clutches in damaged fruit. Mating generally took place as females initiated oviposition. The possible functions of puncture use by females as well as alternative functions of puncture guarding by males are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994


  • Competition
  • Mating
  • Rhagoletis
  • Tephritidae
  • Territoriality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Oviposition site guarding by male walnut flies and its possible consequences for mating success'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this