Blow fly members of the family Calliphoridae, specifically Lucilia sericata (Meigen), have application in the fields of behavioral ecology, forensics, and medicine as agents for assessing ecological succession or decomposition and postmortem interval estimation, and for maggot debridement therapy, respectively. The lack of standardization of laboratory adult insect feeding, breeding, and rearing protocols among researchers in behavioral, medical, and forensic fields has become problematic. With the goal of understanding physical and physiological effects of diet as a baseline for future behavioral experiments, this article focuses on determining basic culture requirements for the adult blow fly L. sericata by comparing nine diets and the effects of each on survivorship and fecundity under controlled laboratory conditions. Percent survival, fecundity, and the effect of culture density were analyzed over the course of 120 d. Results indicate that a simple broad spectrum diet of honey water and bovine liver is the optimum diet for extending the life span of the flies and increasing the number of eggs laid per female per oviposition event, with 5–20 female flies being the optimum number per culture vessel. This culture protocol is simple to follow, can be easily incorporated into current behavioral, forensic, and medical entomology research programs, and the dietary components are readily available across diverse geographic areas.
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Vol. 51 • No. 6