A new mechanised cultural practice to reduce Ceratitis capitata Wied. populations in area-wide IPM
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The Mediterranean fruit fly (or medfly), Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), affects most of the fruit species grown in temperate and tropical climate regions, causing significant economic damage. One of the classical cultural strategies against this pest is to gather and bury the remaining fruit after harvest, but this is economically unfeasible today. Wood shredders already available in current Spanish groves can be used to grind or crush fruits laying on the soil as an alternative to this practice and to the use of pesticides in area-wide integrated pest management (IPM). With the purpose of evaluating this alternative, the initial step of this study was to perform laboratory tests to assess the efficacy of crushing and grinding as a method for controlling medflies. The results showed that grinding was 78% effective against larval stages, while crushing resulted in a 17% efficacy, leading us to choose the first alternative. As a second step, the operational parameters (type of cutting tool, shaft rotation speed and tractor speed) of the wood shredders were adjusted to efficiently carry out this practice under field conditions. Finally, the effect of the mechanised grinding of fallen fruit on C. capitata populations was evaluated for two consecutive years in commercial citrus orchards. The results showed a significant 27-46% reduction in C. capitata populations the following spring, thus demonstrating that the newly proposed mechanised alternative can be included in the current area-wide IPM of the pest in Spain.