Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 143-149, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.018

Factors limiting the northern distribution of the blueberry maggot, Rhagoletis mendax (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Eastern Canada

Charles VINCENT1, Pierre LEMOYNE1, Sonia GAUL2, Kenna MACKENZIE3
1 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 430 Gouin Blvd., Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC Canada J3B 3E6; e-mails: charles.vincent@agr.gc.ca, pierre.lemoyne@agr.gc.ca
2 Kentville Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 32 Main Street, Kentville, N.S., Canada B4N 1J5; e-mail: sonia.gaul@agr.gc.ca
3 Summerland Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 4200 Highway #97, South Summerland, B.C., Canada V0H 1Z0; e-mail: kenna.mackenzie@agr.gc.ca

Until recently, the Canadian distribution of the blueberry maggot, Rhagoletis mendax Curran (Diptera: Tephritidae), was restricted to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The insect was first mentioned in southern Quebec in 1996 and, to date, it has not reached the Lac St-Jean region, where 34% of Canadian blueberry acreage is located. Two questions concerning the northern limit of distribution of the blueberry maggot in Quebec were addressed. First, are wild plants suitable hosts for larval development? We collected the fruit of five wild plants, (e.g. Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium angustifolium, Vaccinium myrtilloides, Gaylussacia baccata, and Aronia melanocarpa) growing in southern Quebec and allowed larvae to complete their development into pupae. Blueberry maggot pupae were recovered from Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium angustifolium, and Gaylussacia baccata, indicating that these plants are suitable for larval development. Second, are harsh winter temperatures a factor limiting the northern distribution of the blueberry maggot? Pupae collected in Quebec and Nova Scotia were put in the soil in the fall and were brought back to the laboratory to determine their supercooling points at different times during winter. The supercooling points of pupae collected in Quebec and Nova Scotia averaged -22.6°C. In natural conditions, air temperatures <-20°C are frequently observed in Quebec in January, February and March. However, due to snow cover, soil temperatures are rarely <-12°C. If -22.6°C constitutes the lower limit for the survival, then winter temperatures are probably not a limiting factor to its northern distribution in Quebec, because blueberry maggot pupae overwinter in the soil.

Keywords: Diptera, Tephritidae, Rhagoletis mendax, blueberry maggot, supercooling point, overwintering, host plants, Vaccinium spp.

Received: June 29, 2015; Accepted: October 22, 2015; Published online: January 28, 2016

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