Synergistic and additive interactions among components of food-based baits underlie female fruit fly attraction.
Attraction of tephritid fruit flies to some food sources can be enhanced by the presence of ammonia derivatives, compounds that are perceived as volatile cues for protein-rich food sources. Using a comparative approach, we (1) evaluated the behavioral responses of females of three invasive fruit fly species, Bactrocera (Zeugodacus) cucurbitae (Coquillett), Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), and Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (all Diptera: Tephritidae) to trub (a protein-rich waste brewer's yeast product generated during the production of beer), Concord grape juice (a protein-deficient material), and ammonium acetate, and (2) identified synergistic and additive interactions between low- and high-attractiveness materials and ammonium acetate. We established the attractiveness of fresh trub, grape juice, and ammonium acetate when tested singly to females of all three fly species. Although ammonium acetate did not enhance significantly the response of females of any species to fresh trub, the most attractive material, ammonium acetate, did significantly enhance females' level of response to aged trub (a comparatively less attractive material) and to grape juice. Our research found a synergistic interaction between diluted grape juice and ammonium acetate for B. cucurbitae, as well as between aged trub and ammonium acetate for B. dorsalis. For C. capitata, additive effects among food attractants and ammonium acetate were identified. Our findings increase our understanding of fruit fly female olfactory-driven behavior in response to food-based materials and the extent to which ammonium acetate modulates female response to protein-rich and protein-deficient materials.