Potential of Moroccan entomopathogenic nematodes for the control of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann (Diptera: Tephritidae)
The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann, is a deleterious pest worldwide affecting fruit production. The entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are a potential biocontrol agent that could be effectively used to control this Mediterranean fruit fly. In this study, five EPN strains reported from different fields in Morocco were evaluated for their efficacy against C. capitata. In laboratory assays, Steinernema feltiae-SF-MOR9, S. feltiae-SF-MOR10 and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora-HB-MOR7 strains showed significantly higher infectivity and penetration rates when compared to the other strains. S. feltiae-SF-MOR9 caused the highest larval mortality rate (80%) at 50 infective juveniles (IJs) cm−2. However, additional results showed that both S. feltiae strains were significantly effective in controlling C. capitata larvae in apricot (Prunus armeniaca) fruits on soil surface with high mortality rate at 50 and 100 IJs cm−2. Different soil textures and moisture levels resulted in a significant variation in EPN strain virulence against C. capitata. Sandy clay loam soil in combination with 50 IJs cm−2 of S. feltiae (SF-MOR9 or SF-MOR10) caused a higher mortality rate of C. capitata larvae. Furthermore, applying these EPN strains at 50–100 IJs cm−2 in combination with 10–15% moisture level showed optimal results against C. capitata larvae. Therefore, those two Moroccan EPN strains could be used as promising eco-friendly biological agents against C. capitata.