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Keywords:

  • Calliphora vicina;
  • Calliphoridae;
  • carrot;
  • crop pollination;
  • Diptera;
  • New Zealand

Abstract

Many insect species can contribute to crop pollination; however, most growers remain highly dependent on the managed honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) for this service. The European Blue Blow Fly Calliphora vicina Robineau-Desvoidy, 1830 is one species with potential use as a pollinator. It occurs worldwide and is easy to rear. Caged trials conducted within a hybrid carrot (Daucus carota L.) seed crop found C. vicina to be an effective pollinator. Seed yield (number and weight) from field-grown carrot plants caged with C. vicina, but excluding all other large flower visitors (body width > 3 mm), was similar to seed yield from uncaged plants in the presence of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) and other insects. In contrast, caged plants without C. vicina produced 10-fold less seed. Under open field conditions, C. vicina spent an average of 71.0 s per umbel compared to 54.4 s for honey bees; however, under caged conditions, C. vicina spent more time on average per umbel (128.9 s). Counts of C. vicina and honey bees on umbels outside of cages and C. vicina inside cages found that honey bees were most abundant on days with maximum temperature > 25°C, while C. vicina was more abundant on cooler days around 20°C. C. vicina may therefore be a useful pollinator of crops grown in isolation cages for plant breeding purposes as well as in open fields when climatic conditions are less favourable for optimal honey bee activity.