Characterization of age and cuticular hydrocarbon variation in mating pairs of house fly, musca domestica, collected in the field

S. M. Butler, R. D. Moon, N. C. Hinkle, J. G. Millar, J. S. McElfresh, B. A. Mullens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


House flies, Musca domestica L., were collected in copula over two summers from six dairies located in three climatically distinct regions in the U.S.A. southern California, Minnesota and Georgia. Ages of males and females from a total of 511 mating pairs were estimated using pterin analysis. Cuticular hydrocarbon profiles and gonotrophic ages of females also were evaluated. Mean age of mating males ranged from 54 to 102 degree-days (DD) (4-10 days based on field air temperatures), depending on the farm. Very young males (< 10-20 DD) and old males (> 200 DD) were rare in mating pairs. Mean female age at mating ranged from 20 to 46 DD (2.5-4 days). All mating females had eggs in the early stages of vitellogenesis and 99.2% were nulliparous. However, some older and parous females were collected, demonstrating that re-mating can occur in the field. Head width measurements of mating pairs suggested that assortative mating by size did not occur. The cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of females were determined, with emphasis on (Z)-9-tricosene (muscalure). Overall, only 55% of mating females had detectable amounts (> 4 ηg per fly) of (Z)-9-tricosene. Of the females that had detectable (Z)-9-tricosene, variation in amount per female was high in all fly populations, and thus was not statistically related to the size or age of the mating female. The proportion of mating females with detectable levels of (Z)-9-tricosene varied by geographic region. Seventy-one, 63, and 27% of females from southern California, Minnesota and Georgia had detectable amounts of (Z)-9-tricosene. Principal components analysis of the eight most abundant hydrocarbons from mating females, by state, revealed state-level distinctiveness of hydrocarbons in house fly populations, which may reflect genetic variation associated with environmental stresses in those geographical zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-442
Number of pages17
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • (Z)-9-tricosene
  • Age
  • Cuticular hydrocarbons
  • House fly
  • Mating
  • Musca domestica
  • Muscalure
  • Pterin analysis
  • Sex pheromone


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