Role of host fruit color in the behavior of the walnut fly Rhagoletis juglandis

M. Lawrence Henneman, Daniel R. Papaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Observations and sticky-trap tests were used to assess the effect of fruit color on the behavior of adult male and female Rhagoletis juglandis Cresson (Diptera: Tephritidae), a tephritid that infests husks of Arizona walnut in southeastern Arizona. In the first experiment, during which flies were observed foraging among walnut models suspended from small walnut trees, models were painted green to appear ripe and uninfested or yellow with brown patches to appear ripe and infested. Flies used for this first experiment were also of two types: prior to observations, one group of flies had access to real walnuts for 1.5 days (prior experience) while the other group of flies was held without real walnut fruits (no prior experience). Regardless of prior experience with real walnut fruits, female flies landed on green models more than yellow/brown models. Experienced males also were more likely to land on green models than on yellow/brown models. More interactions also occurred on green models, because there were more landings. In the field behavioral assay, flies from a natural population given a choice of green, yellow, and yellow/brown models landed most often on green models, and all interactions and oviposition attempts occurred on green models. Flies also distinguished models by color in field sticky trap assays. These results suggest that female response to ripeness cues is innate, while males develop a preference for green based on their encounter rate with females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Color cues
  • Learning
  • Mating
  • Oviposition
  • Rhagoletis
  • Tephritidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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