Although blue bottle fly larvae eat carrion, the adult flies frequently feed on flowers with exposed nectaries. Pollen grains become attached to the flies' body hair and are moved from flower to flower as they search for nectar, a process known as incidental pollination. Typically the blue bottle fly visits flowers with a strong odor often resembling rotting meat. Plants pollinated by the fly include the American pawpaw (Asimina triloba), dead horse arum (Helicodiceros muscivorus), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), and members of the carrot family like Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota).
At the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) in Ames, Iowa, both the blue bottle fly and the common house fly (Musca domestica) are used to pollinate plants of the carrot family in the field and greenhouses. Several farms have used blue bottle flies to successfully pollinate vegetable crops including carrots, broccoli, lettuce, and canola. As managed pollinators, the blue bottle fly is non-aggressive to humans; the pupae are cheap to purchase and can be stored for three weeks; and the flies work in smaller areas and at cooler temperatures than bees. For these reasons, the blue bottle fly is actually being used as an alternative to bee pollinators.
- Pollinators at NCRPIS (USDA Agricultural Research Service, North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station)
- Descriptions of Families of Flower-Visiting Flies (In: Insect Visitors of Illinois Flowers, Copyright 2002-2007 John Hilty)
- Farm Report, May 2004 (In: Seeds of Change eNewsletter 41, The Cutting Edge)
- Bluebottle Flies as Pollinators in Greenhouses of High Tunnels (In: The Vegetable and Small Gazette, Volume 4, Number 12, December, 2000, Horticulture Department, The Pennsylvania State University)
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