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Larviposition in the ovoviviparous blowfly Calliphora dubia

Authors


Dr D. F. Cook, Centre for Forensic Science, University of Western Australia, M420, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia. Tel.: + 61 8 6488 7290; Fax: + 61 8 6488 7285; E-mail: dfcook@faculty.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

This study examined larviposition in Calliphora dubia Macquart (Diptera: Calliphoridae), an ovoviviparous blowfly of considerable forensic importance in Australia. Females in the field carried 22–83 live larvae, exhibiting a strong linear relationship between female size and the number of live larvae carried. Females took just over 1 min (mean 67.7 ± 7.7 s, n = 54) to larviposit live larvae on or near fresh liver in the laboratory. Females laid larvae at a mean rate of 1.2 ± 0.1 larvae/s, with the fastest rate being 3.4 larvae/s. Most females (70%) laid live larvae only, but 14% laid larvae and eggs at the same time and 16% laid eggs only (none of the eggs laid were viable). Females laying only live larvae laid a mean of 53.7 ± 2.3 larvae, whereas those laying only eggs laid a mean of 48.6 ± 2.8 eggs on each occasion. None of the eggs laid were viable. Most females (86%) laid all their larvae in a single spot, even if they engaged in several bouts of laying live larvae. Nearly one-third of females did not lay all the live larvae in their ovisacs, but retained half of their complement of developed larvae. Females may be opting to spread their larvae across several carcasses in order to increase their survival and not to overcrowd small, ephemeral carcasses. The fact that a blowfly can lay either eggs or live larvae has enormous implications for the accurate determination of the post-mortem interval (PMI) as the presence of larvae derived from eggs laid on the body add 6–18 h to the PMI. This paper represents the first report of the ability of female calliphorids to resorb some of their own live larvae.

Ancillary