The adult body size of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), varies in natural conditions. Body size is an important fitness indicator in the Mediterranean fruit fly; larger individuals are more competitive at mating and have a greater dispersion capacity and fertility. Both temperature during larval development and host fruit quality have been cited as possible causes for this variation. We studied the influence of host fruit and temperature during larval development on adult body size (wing area) in the laboratory, and determined body size variation in field populations of the Mediterannean fruit fly in eastern Spain. Field flies measured had two origins: 1) flies periodically collected throughout the year in field traps from 32 citrus groves, during the period 2003–2007; and 2) flies evolved from different fruit species collected between June and December in 2003 and 2004. In the lab, wing area of male and female adults varied significantly with temperature during larval development, being larger at the lowest temperature. Adult size also was significantly different depending on the host fruit in which larvae developed. The size of the flies captured at the field, either from traps or from fruits, varied seasonally showing a gradual pattern of change along the year. The largest individuals were obtained during winter and early spring and the smallest during late summer. In field conditions, the size of the adult Mediterannean fruit fly seems apparently more related with air temperature than with host fruit. The implications of this adult size pattern on the biology of C. capitata and on the application of the sterile insect technique are discussed.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4