|Entomologist collecting beetles from an old cow carcass|
|Powerpoint file about deception directed at pollinators, examples Ophris and Stapelia|
But at first, there were no green bottle flies.
|Braconidae (Braconid Wasps), Alysiinae|
|2 wasps, and a Flesh Fly|
|Sarcophage female giving birth to live maggots|
She crawled around in the center of the flower, probably doing the pollination duty that she was tricked into. Then she emitted bursts of sharp buzzing. At this time her abdomen was pointed pretty much at the center of the flower, the area that probably emits the foul smell. She seemed to be laying eggs, piling up a clump of little whitish cylinders.
The video function of my camera was running at this point, so I had a good close-up view on the screen. To my surprise, the cylinders moved and crawled deeper into the center of the flower. Not eggs. The fly was giving birth to live maggots. (Now I've learned that all members of the family Sarcophagidae are larviparous or ovoviviparous). Under normal circumstances, this would give the maggots a head-start over other consumers of the limited resource that they depend on. Little Burrowing Beetles for example have a slower start, being deposited in egg-form, but then they can rely on the tender loving care of both their parents, a luxury the flies have to do without.
But under normal circumstances, I never would have had my camera positioned so close to an egg-laying flesh fly. Recording it it on a flower instead of on rotting flesh made all the difference.
These larvae, though, are condemned to starve to death in the heart of the flower because their mother fell fore the deception of a devious plant. With them, the offspring of the parasitic wasp (a Sarcophgid specialist) is also bound to die.
|A Green Bottle Fly has also arrived (left)|
In reality, plants have evolved to propagate their genes. That's it. They may pay for pollination services with nectar, drugs (Datura and Manduca) sex (Bumblee Ophris and hymenoptera) or let little fly-babies starve to death. The plant does not care!
I thought I'd also add a photo of the 'normal' situation. Here a carrion beetle, Thanatophilus truncatus, a blow fly, Calliphoridae and again a parasitic wasp, Braconidae have found a dead deer calf. They were the first to arrive in the morning after the deer had been run over by a car at night. Their larvae will act as macro-decomposer, opening the way for bacteria and fungi. This is a very important role for insects in the ecological system.