Morphometric criteria to differentiate Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) seasonal morphs

Anh K. Tran, W. D. Hutchison, Mark K. Asplen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Temperate insect species often enter diapause in preparation for overwintering. One such species is the invasive vinegar fly, Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura), which has seasonal polymorphisms, considered winter and summer morphs. To date, the morphs have been differentiated by color and size with winter morphs typically being darker and larger compared to summer morphs. 'Dark' and 'large' are subjective, however, and standardizing an identification process can ensure that the morph of interest is being accurately characterized. The goal of our research was to investigate a quantitative method to distinguish between D. suzukii morphs based on body and wing size. We reared winter and summer morph D. suzukii in the laboratory using standard procedures, and measured wing length, wing width, and hind tibia length. Additionally, we collected field D. suzukii to document the seasonal phenology of the morphs in Minnesota based on our model's cutoff criteria. A classification and regression tree analysis were used to determine which metrics would be best for predicting field-caught D. suzukii morphs. Using laboratory-reared flies as our known morphs for the training data in the classification model we developed classification trees based on wing length and the ratio of wing length to hind tibia length. The frequency of winter and summer morphs present in the field varied based on which classification tree was used. Nevertheless, we suggest ratio of wing length to hind tibia length as the most robust criteria for differentiating D. suzukii morphs because the ratio accounts for the size variability between laboratory-reared and field-caught flies and the error rate of misclassification is reduced to 0.01 for males. The results from this work can aid in future D. suzukii research by allowing scientists to objectively differentiate the morphs, and thereby improve our understanding of the biology and phenology of seasonal morph dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0228780
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by grants to WDH from the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center ( through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We sincerely thank Eric Burkness, Sarah Holle, Dominique Ebbenga, Adam Toninato, Emily Fleissner, Lydia Gusaas, and Izzy Bur for their assistance with field collection and colony maintenance. We extend our gratitude to Drs. Brian Aukema, Robert Venette and Mary Rogers for their suggestions on statistical analysis and review, and to Mary Marek-Spartz and Jake Witt-man for advice on machine learning and R programming.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Tran et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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