Fishing for flies: testing the efficacy of “stink stations” for promoting blow flies as pollinators in mango orchards
Keywords:blow flies, Calliphoridae, Diptera, pollination, carrion, mango, hover fly, Syrphidae
Pollinator communities are composed of diverse groups of insects, with radically different life histories and resource needs. Blow flies are known to visit a variety of economically important crop plants. Larval blow flies develop by feeding on decaying animals. Some fruit growers are known to place carrion on farms during the flowering season to attract adult blow flies (Calliphoridae). However, the efficacy of these “stink stations” has not been tested. We conducted a series of experiments to determine: 1) if stink stations promote the abundance of blow flies in mango orchards (Mangifera indica L.), 2) if any increases in the abundance of flies acts to promote pollination and fruit set in Australian mango orchards. Farms with stink stations had approximately three times more flies than control farms. However, the increased abundance of blow flies did not result in increased fruit set. Although stink stations increased the abundance of blow flies, we found no evidence that their use improves mango yield. This may be due to pollination saturation by a highly abundant native hover fly, Mesembrius bengalensis (Syrphidae), during our study. We hypothesize that stink stations may only be beneficial in years or regions where other pollinators are less abundant.
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