Use of forested field edges by a blueberry insect pest, Rhagoletis mendax (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Francis A. Drummond, Judith A. Collins, Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Aijun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The blueberry maggot fly, Rhagoletis mendax Curran, is a pest of wild and highbush blueberries. In wild blueberries, most flies colonize fields from forest edges annually. Flies were associated with forest canopies adjacent to colonized fields. Flies were captured up to 6 m high (limited by trap placement height) and may occur at greater tree heights. Fly abundance relative to tree species was highest in red oak. Releases of marked flies from tree canopies showed that release height had no effect on distance into the field that flies dispersed. This is important because the main fly control tactic is the application of a 25- to 30-m-wide swath of insecticide along field perimeters. In the laboratory, flies preferred leaves and leaf extracts of red oak compared to other leaf tree and shrub species, including blueberry. Electroantennographs demonstrated that the female antennae consistently responded to compounds extracted from red oak leaves. Mass spectra and gas chromatograph retention times of five antenna-active compounds matched those of (i) trans-β-ocimene, (ii) linalool, (iii) 4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, (iv) indole, and (v) trans-nerolidol. We speculate flies recruit to trees before movement into blueberry fields primarily for food, as supported by their arrestment response to leaf extracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-202
Number of pages14
JournalAgricultural and Forest Entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


  • blueberry maggot fly
  • mark-recapture
  • tree leaf chemistry
  • tree preference


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