Adult mortality and oviposition rates in field and captive populations of the blowfly Lucilia sericata


*Professor Richard Wall, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, U.K. E-mail:


Abstract.  1. Adult mortality and oviposition rates were determined for populations of the blowfly Lucilia sericata (Meigen) (Diptera: Calliphoridae). This species is of economic importance as the primary agent of sheep myiasis throughout north-western Europe.

2. Populations of marked flies in six, 1 m3, outdoor field cages and unmarked wild flies at two farms in south-west England were studied simultaneously between May and September 1998.

3. In the field, wild female L. sericata were caught and aged using a combination of wing-fray and ovarian dissection techniques. Survivorship analysis gave estimates of mortality of 1.94% (± 0.037) and 2.09% (± 0.044) per day-degree and mean life expectancy of 51.5 and 47.9 day-degrees above a threshold of 11 °C, at the two farms studied. Mean lifetime reproductive output in the field was estimated to be 159.6 and 138.4 eggs per female at the two farms respectively.

4. The survivorship of cohorts of marked female flies in cages was followed by counting the number of dead individuals each day; the mortality rate of these flies was 0.81% per day-degree (± 3.49 × 10−4%) and the mean life expectancy was 123.1 day-degrees above a threshold of 11 °C. Mortality rate was shown to increase significantly with average ambient temperature and relative humidity lagged for two sample periods (approximately 10 days). Oviposition rate also increased with average temperature but declined with average relative humidity. A best-fit multiple regression model incorporating both ambient temperature and humidity explained 60.5% of the variance in the pattern of oviposition.

5. The differences between the field and cage populations highlight the caution required when extrapolating life-history parameters from artificial to natural habitats.