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Revista de la Sociedad Entomológica Argentina

versión impresa ISSN 0373-5680versión On-line ISSN 1851-7471

Rev. Soc. Entomol. Argent. v.67 n.1-2 Mendoza ene./jun. 2008


Geographic distribution and hosts of Zaprionus indianus (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in North-Eastern Argentina

Distribución geográfica y hospedadores de Zaprionus indianus (Diptera: Drosophilidae) en el noreste de Argentina

Lavagnino, Nicolás J., Valeria P. Carreira, Julián Mensch, Esteban Hasson And Juan J. Fanara

Laboratorio de Evolución. Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución. Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales. Universidad de Buenos Aires. Pabellón II. Ciudad Universitaria. C1428HA. Buenos Aires, Argentina; e-mail:

ABSTRACT. The first published record of the African drosophilid Zaprionus indianus Gupta 1970 in the Americas refers to individuals observed on fallen persimmon (Diospyros kaki Linnaei, «caqui») fruits in São Paulo city (Brazil) in March 1999. Since that date, this species colonized altered and natural environments across the continent. In the present work we report new records for Z. indianus in north eastern Argentina. Moreover, our results showed that this species represents a fairly high proportion among collected drosophilids in some sampling sites. Our survey also revealed that this invading species has the ability to breed and feed in a wide range of native and cultivated host-plants.

KEY WORDS. Geographic distribution; Bioinvasion; Zaprionus indianus; Argentina.

RESUMEN. El primer registro publicado de la especie africana Zaprionus indianus Gupta 1970 en el continente Americano se refiere a individuos observados en frutos caídos de «caqui» (Diospyros kaki Linnaei) en la ciudad de São Paulo, (Brasil) en Marzo de 1999. Desde esa fecha, esta especie ha colonizado ambientes naturales y perturbados en todo el continente. En el presente trabajo, confirmamos la presencia de Z. indianus en el noreste de Argentina y mostramos que, en algunas localidades, representa una alta proporción entre las especies de drosofílidos colectados. Nuestra investigación reveló que esta especie invasora es capaz de criarse y alimentarse en un amplio rango de plantas hospedadoras tanto nativas como cultivadas.

PALABRAS CLAVE. Distribución geográfica; Bioinvasión; Zaprionus indianus; Argentina.

Zaprionus indianus Gupta 1970 (Diptera: Drosophilidae), commonly known as «the African fig fly», is an afrotropical drosophilid (Chassagnard & Kraaijeveld, 1991; Chasssagnard & Tsacas, 1993) first collected in the American continent in São Pablo, Brazil in 1999 (Vilela, 1999). After this first report, it has been found in other areas of South America (De Toni et al., 2001; Goñi et al., 2001, 2002; Santos et al., 2003; Tidon et al., 2003), Central and North America (van der Linde et al., 2006). This widespread distribution of Z. indianus is an indication of its great colonizing ability (Santos et al., 2003; Yassin & Abou-Youssef, 2004), which could be related to the large number of fruit-producing plant species used as breeding and feeding sites by this species (Lachaise & Tascas, 1983; Goñi et al., 2002; Raga, 2002; van der Linde et al, 2006). Z. indianus not only uses decaying fruit as breeding sites, it also infests early-ripening fruits (Vilela et al., 2001; Raga et al., 2003).
After the first record of this species in Argentina (Soto et al., 2006), we increase our knowledge by describing its distributional range and the resources used as breeding and feeding sites in several localities of northeastern Argentina. Eleven localities distributed along the Paraná River Basin were sampled between February 21st and March 5th 2007 (Fig. 1, Table I). We applied two methods to quantify the relative abundance of Z. indianus: i) net sweeping over fermented banana baits or rotting fruits laying on the ground (collected flies); and ii) fruit collection in locations where decaying fruits were available on the ground. Collected fruits were stored in plastic containers and transported to the lab. All flies emerging during the following two weeks were aspirated daily and determined into species whenever possible (emerged flies). We identified Z. indianus by its overall yellowish thorax and abdomen and the narrow silver bands bordered by black bands along the head, thorax and scutellum (van der Linde, 2006).

Fig. 1. Location of the 11 collection sites. Black and grey points indicate the presence and the absence of Zaprionus indianus, respectively.

Table I. Geographic coordinates and potential hosts of Zaprionus indianus at study sites. For collected and emerged samples, relative abundance of Z. indianus is also shown, calculated as the percentage of Z. indianus over a total of flies sampled.

Adult flies of Z. indianus were collected in 8 out of the 11 localities surveyed (Table I). The abundance of Z. indianus relative to other drosophilids was low (less than 20 %) except in Montecarlo (40%) and Las Lomitas (90%). Z. indianus emerged from the decaying fruits of 7 different species (Table I): Psidium guajava Linnaei («guava»), Opuntia ficus indica Miller («prickly pear»), Carica papaya Linnaei («mamón» or «papaya»), Mangifera indica Linnaei («mango»), Diospyros sp. («caqui») (we are unsure of the specific status of the specimens collected in the field; they are most likely either D. virginiana Linnaei, D. chinensis Blume or D. kaki Linnaei), Averrhoa carambola Linnaei («carambola») and Prunus persica Linnaei («peach»). We also collected it from immature «guava» fruits; this infestation of immature fruits occurs probably because fruits were previously damaged. Until this report, infestation of immature fruits was reported only in figs; but in this case as a consequence of figs' particular morphology in the ostiole region of their infructescences (Raga et al., 2003). Furthermore, Gomes et al. (2003) demonstrated the presence of the yeast Candida tropicalis Berkhout in figs infested by Z. indianus, which increased the decaying process of the fruit, thus attracting adults flies to lay eggs and feed (Raga, 2002). As a result of this process, the fig commercial production in Brazil was reduced by 50% and Z. indianus is considered a pest in Brazil (Vilela et al., 2001; Raga, 2002). Therefore, attention should be paid to Z. indianus invasion in Argentina because of possible negative effects on commercial fruit cultivations.
Several collecting trips have been performed by the authors to the area surveyed in this study in the last 20 years, and the presence of Z. indianus has never been detected (E. Hasson and J. J. Fanara field notes and unpublished results), suggesting that this species expanded rapidly in north-eastern Argentina. In a recent collecting trip (April 2008) Z. indianus was found in Ituzaingó (Corrientes) and Montecarlo (Misiones), confirming that this species is still present in north-eastern Argentina after two years of its first record. In conclusion, our survey shows a persistent presence of Zaprionus indianus in north-eastern Argentina and reveals the diversity of fruits that this species can use as hosts.


We would like to thank the following institutions for invaluable help during collecting trips: Centro de Investigaciones Científicas (CICYTTP), Diamante, Entre Ríos (CONICET). Estación experimental agropecuaria (INTA), Bella Vista, Corrientes. Parque Nacional Iguazú (Administración de Parques Nacionales), Puerto Iguazú, Misiones. Estación experimental agropecuaria (INTA), Montecarlo, Misiones. Estación experimental agropecuaria (INTA), Colonia Benítez, Chaco. Reserva natural estricta (Administración de Parques Nacionales), Colonia Benítez, Chaco. Centro de Validación Tecnológica Agropecuaria (CEDEVA), Las Lomitas, Formosa. Unidad de extensión pro huerta (INTA), Ingeniero Juárez, Formosa. This work was supported by grants from Universidad de Buenos Aires, CONICET and Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Técnica. NJL, VPC and JM are recipients of post-doctoral scholarships of CONICET (Argentina), EH and JJF are members of Carrera del Investigador Cientifico of CONICET (Argentina).


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Recibido: 31-01-2008;
Aceptado: 16-05-2008

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