Studying foraging behavior to improve bait sprays application to control Drosophila suzukii

K. Escobedo-Quevedo*, M.J. Lankheet, I. Pen, M. Trienens, H.H.M. Helsen, B. Wertheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Foraging behavior in insects is optimised for locating scattered resources in a complex environment. This behavior can be exploited for use in pest control. Inhibition of feeding can protect crops whereas stimulation can increase the uptake of insecticides. For example, the success of a bait spray, depends on either contact or ingestion, and thus on the insect finding it. Methods: To develop an effective bait spray against the invasive pest, Drosophila suzukii, we investigated aspects of foraging behavior that influence the likelihood that the pest interacts with the baits, in summer and winter morphotypes. We video-recorded the flies’ approach behavior towards four stimuli in a two-choice experiment on strawberry leaflets. To determine the most effective bait positioning, we also assessed where on plants the pest naturally forages, using a potted raspberry plant under natural environmental conditions. We also studied starvation resistance at 20 °C and 12 °C for both morphs. Results: We found that summer morph flies spent similar time on all baits (agar, combi-protec, yeast) whereas winter morphs spent more time on yeast than the other baits. Both morphs showed a preference to feed at the top of our plant’s canopy. Colder temperatures enhanced survival under starvation conditions in both morphs, and mortality was reduced by food treatment. Conclusions: These findings on feeding behavior support informed decisions on the type and placement of a bait to increase pest control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalBMC Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2024


  • Arrestment
  • Attraction
  • Food lures
  • Integrated pest management
  • Spotted wing drosophila
  • Starvation resistance
  • Summer and winter morph


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