Tephritid fruit flies are major economic pests for fruit production and are an impediment to international trade. Different host fruits are known to vary in their suitability for fruit flies to complete their life cycle. Currently, international regulatory standards that define the likely legal host status for tephritid fruit flies categorize fruits as a natural host, a conditional host, or a nonhost. For those fruits that are natural or conditional hosts, infestation rate can vary as a spectrum ranging from highly attractive fruits supporting large numbers of fruit flies to very poor hosts supporting low numbers. Here, we propose a Host Suitability Index (HSI), which divides the host status of natural and conditional hosts into five categories based on the log infestation rate (number of flies per kilogram of fruit) ranging from very poor (<0.1), poor (0.1–1.0), moderately good (1.0–10.0), good (10–100), and very good (>100). Infestation rates may be determined by field sampling or cage infestation studies. We illustrate the concept of this index using 21 papers that examine the host status of fruits in five species of polyphagous fruit flies in the Pacific region: Bactrocera tryoni Froggatt, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), Bactrocera latifrons (Hendel), Zeugodacus cucurbitae (Coquillett), and Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae). This general-purpose index may be useful in developing systems approaches that rely on poor host status, for determining surveillance and detection protocols for potential incursions, and to guide the appropriate regulatory response during fruit fly outbreaks.
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Vol. 114 • No. 3