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Effect of hunger on yellow water trap catches of hoverfly (Diptera: Syrphidae) adults

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1 An experiment was conducted in a winter wheat field using yellow water traps at crop height and at ground level, near to and distant from flowers, to test the hypothesis that such traps are seen as a source of food by flower-feeding adult hoverflies and are therefore likely to selectively trap hungry individuals. Hoverflies caught in each trap were counted and identified and the amount of pollen in their guts was assessed. Ratios of numbers of hoverflies seen in the wheat crop to numbers caught in nearby traps were compared for the different treatments.

2 Most hoverflies were caught in crop-high traps but they included a high proportion of individuals with empty guts. The taxa were: Episyrphus balteatus (De Geer), Metasyrphus corollae (F.) (these species together accounted for over 90% of the individuals trapped), with Sphaerophoria spp., Syrphus spp., Scaeva pyrastri (L.), Melanostomini and unidentified others making up the rest.

3 Significantly fewer hoverflies were captured in low than in high traps. The ratios of numbers trapped to numbers observed, in flower and in no flower treatments would be expected to be the same if the traps were not selective. This was supported for low traps. With high traps, however, there was a highly significant difference between the ratios (71.34 and 126 : 8, respectively).

4 Flies captured in high traps had less pollen in their gut than those captured in low ones. At each distance, more E. balteatus captured in high traps were in pollen category 1 (< 20 grains) than in any other category. The opposite state was seen in low trap catches, where most flies were in category 5 (> 5000 grains). Median pollen categories were 2 (21–200 grains) and 4 (1501–5000 grains) for flies caught in high and low traps, respectively.

5 The ecological selectivity of traps according to their height and the physiological condition of the targeted individuals is a problem likely to affect many trapping systems apart from the one described in this paper.
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Keywords: Episyrphus balteatus; Syrphidae; pollen analysis; trapping methods; yellow water trap

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences Building, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton SO16 7PX, U.K., 2: Ecology and Entomology Group, Division of Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand, 3: Department of Entomology, Oregon State University, 2046 Cordley Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-2907, U.S.A., 4: Applied Computing, Mathematics and Statistics Group, Division of Applied Management and Computing, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand

Publication date: 2001-02-01

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