Olfactory preference of Drosophila suzukii shifts between fruit and fermentation cues over the season: effects of physiological status.
Worldwide monitoring programs of the invasive fruit pest Drosophila suzukii Matsumura (Diptera: Drosophilidae), using fermentation baits like apple cider vinegar (ACV), revealed a counterintuitive period of low trap catches during summer, followed by an autumn peak. In this study, we demonstrate that ACV baited traps indeed provide a distorted image of the D. suzukii population dynamics as it is possible to capture higher numbers during this "low capture period" with synthetic lures. It was hypothesised that the preference of D. suzukii populations for fermentation cues like ACV is most pronounced during autumn, winter and spring, while the flies prefer fresh fruit cues during summer and that this seasonal preference is related to the changing physiology of the flies over the season. To test this hypothesis, the preference between fermentation cues (ACV) and host fruits (strawberries) and the effect of physiology (sex, seasonal morphology and feeding, mating and reproductive status) was investigated both in olfactometer laboratory experiments and a year-round field preference experiment. In olfactometer experiments we demonstrated that protein deprived females, virgin females with a full complement of unfertilised eggs and males show a strong preference for fermentation cues while fully fed reproductive summer morph females generally prefer fruit cues. These findings indicate that D. suzukii is attracted to fermentation volatiles in search of (protein-rich) food and to fruit volatiles in search of oviposition substrates. Winter morph and starved females displayed indiscriminating olfactory behaviour. In the field preference experiment, the hypothesised seasonal shift between fermentation and fruit cues was confirmed. This shift appeared to be highly temperature-related and was similarly observed for summer and winter morphs.