Sugar administration to newly emerged Aedes albopictus males increases their survival probability and mating performance.

CAA Centro Agricoltura Ambiente > Scientific Papers > Entomologia e Zoologia Sanitarie > Sugar administration to newly emerged Aedes albopictus males increases their survival probability and mating performance.

Bellini R, A Puggioli, F Balestrino, P Brunelli, A Medici, S Urbanelli, M Carrieri

Acta Tropica 132S (2014): S116-S123.

Aedes albopictus male survival in laboratory cages is no more than 4–5 days when kept without any access to sugar indicating their need to feed on a sugar source soon after emergence. We therefore developed a device to administer energetic substances to newly emerged males when released as pupae as part of a sterile insect technique (SIT) programme, made with a polyurethane sponge 4 cm thick and perforated with holes 2 cm in diameter. The sponge was imbibed with the required sugar solution and due to its high retention capacity the sugar solution was available for males to feed for at least 48 h. When evaluated in lab cages, comparing adults emerged from the device with sugar solution vs the device with water only (as negative control), about half of the males tested positive for fructose using the Van Handel anthrone test, compared to none of males in the control cage. We then tested the tool in semi-field and in field conditions with different sugar concentrations (10%, 15%, and 20%) and compared results to the controls fed with water only. Males were recaptured by a battery operated manual aspirator at 24 and 48 h after pupae release. Rather high share 10–25% of captured males tested positive for fructose in recollections in the vicinity of the control stations, while in the vicinity of the sugar stations around 40–55% of males were positive, though variability between replicates was large. The sugar positive males in the control test may have been released males that had access to natural sugar sources found close to the release station and/or wild males present in the environment. Only a slight increase in the proportion of positive males was obtained by increasing the sugar concentration in the feeding device from 10% to 20%. Surprisingly, modification of the device to add a black plastic inverted funnel above the container reduced rather than increased the proportion of fructose positive males collected around the station. No evidence of difference in the capacity of sterile (irradiated with 30 Gy) males to take a sugar meal relative to fertile males was observed in field comparison. A clear effect of temperature and relative humidity (RH) on the rate of sugar positive males was observed, with an increase of temperature and a decrease in RH strongly increasing the % of sugar positive males. In large enclosures we tested the effect of our sugar supplying tool on the mating competitiveness of sterile vs fertile males, which produced an evident favorable effect both on sterile and fertile males.