Physalis peruviana L. (Solanaceae) is not a host of Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae): evidence from multi-year field and laboratory studies in Colombia.
Scientifically-based, tephritid fly host status determination lies at the heart of strategic regulatory decisions impinging on international fruit trade. Here we conducted intensive field and laboratory studies with peaches as controls, to determine the host status of Physalis peruviana for the Medfly - Ceratitis capitata, as this fruit is experiencing a consumption boom worldwide. A total of 98,132 Uchuvas (local name), collected in Colombia from the plant or the ground over a three-year period (2016-2018) did not yield a single C. capitata larva or pupa, thus reaching a Probit 9 level with 99.9968% efficacy and 96% confidence level. Field-cage studies with enclosed fruit-bearing Uchuva plants, exposing fruit with an intact, damaged or totally removed husk to the attack of C. capitata, also failed to yield infestations. Highly artificial choice experiments, exposing gravid females to unripe and fully ripe fruit, resulted in an absence of infestations, even when overripe Uchuvas were artificially damaged. The husk and surface resins/waxes inhibit fly landings on fruit and oviposition activity. Considering our results and the fact that the foliage, husk and fruit of P. peruviana are repellent/toxic to insects, we conclude that this plant should be treated as a non-natural and non-conditional host of C. capitata.