Biology of the Sarcophaginae
The Sarcophaginae are biologically diverse and especially the New World fauna displays a multitude
of life habits. The genera Oxysarcodexia and Ravinia are associated with dung, mostly as
coprophages but at least some species may be partly predatory (Pickens 1981).
Several species produce myiasis in selected vertebrates, like Cistudinomyia cistudinis in turtles
(Kepner 1912, Peters 1948, Dodge 1955), Lepidodexia (Notochaeta)
blakeae in lizards (Dodge 1955) and Lepidodexia (Notochaeta)
bufonivora in frogs and toads (Lopes & Vogelsang 1953, Crump & Pounds 1985).
The large genus Blaesoxipha contains numerous parasitoids of especially acridid grasshoppers and tenebrionid beetles, but other Saltatoria and Coleoptera as well as cockroaches and mantids serve as hosts, and B. beameri has been recorded as bred from a spirobolid millipede (Pape 1990, 1994). Females of Blaesoxipha may dart at jumping grasshoppers and deposit a single larva, they may follow locust swarms and sprinkle larvae onto the flying locusts, or they may insert larvae into the buccal cavity, the genito-anal aperture, or directly into the haemocoele through an intersegmental membrane (Kelly 1914, Middlekauf 1959, Léonide & Léonide 1986). Species of Blaesoxipha (Gigantotheca), however, seems to breed in vertebrate and invertebrate carrion (Pape 1994, 1996).
Emblemasoma contains parasitoids of Cicadidae, with females locating their male hosts by the song (Soper et al. 1976; Lopes 1971, 1981). The prosternum is enlarged in all species and may serve as an acoustic sense organ like in the ormiid Tachinidae parasitising grylloid and tettigonioid orthopterans (Crosskey 1976). The genus Spirobolomyia has been bred exclusively from spirobolid millipedes (Aldrich 1916), larvae of Fletcherimyia develop as predators/scavengers in the proteolytic fluid of Sarracenia leaves (Aldrich 1916, Forsyth & Robertson 1975, Fish 1976, Fish & Hall 1978), Dexosarcophaga contains species with larvae living in termite mounds and ants' nests (Dodge 1965; Lopes 1968, 1969), and at least some species of Tripanurga seem to be specialized predators of turtle eggs (Greene 1925, Pape 1996).
The majority of species within the large genus Sarcophaga may be scavengers of small carrion like dead insects and snails as well as smaller vertebrates, and only few species are breeding in larger vertebrate carcases and feces. Some species seem to be remarkably versatile in their life habit, like Sarcophaga (Myorhina) nigriventris, which has been bred from a bumblebee, honeybees, beetles, snails and acridid grasshoppers (see references in Pape 1987). Sarcophaga (Phytosarcophaga) destructor is apparently able to develop entirely on decomposing vegetable matter, as judged from numerous breeding records from the pulp of melons and tomatoes (Salem 1936, Whitfield 1939, Verves 1993), but the species has also been bred from dying or moribund acridid grasshoppers (Wood 1933, Séguy 1951). Other subgenera contain species with rather specialized life habits, like snail predators (Heteronychia), predators on earthworms (Sarcophaga s.str.), and predators of spider egg sacs (Baranovisca and Mehria) (Pape 1987, Verves 1991). Some species of Sarcophaga also associate with pitchers of Nepenthes, like Sarcophaga urceola and S. (Sarcosolomonia) papuensis (Beaver 1979, Yeates et al. 1989).
Content by T. Pape on behalf of the editorial group.
Please send any comments about these pages to Thomas Pape.
Last updated: 25 October 2009.
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