Browse/search for people

Publication - Dr Kieren Pitts

    Cold shock and cold tolerance in larvae and pupae of the blow fly, Lucilia sericata


    Pitts, K & Wall, R, 2006, ‘Cold shock and cold tolerance in larvae and pupae of the blow fly, Lucilia sericata’. Physiological Entomology, vol 31 (1)., pp. 57 - 62


    Understanding the effects of low winter temperatures on mortality is essential in the development of a full understanding of the long-term population dynamics of any insect. The present study aims to examine the survival of pupae and larvae of the blow fly, Lucilia sericata, at overwintering temperatures. Groups of pupae and diapausing and nondiapausing third-stage larvae of L. sericata are maintained in cooled incubators at either 3 °C and 6 °C. Groups are removed from the incubators at 3–4-day intervals and transferred either to−8 °C or to 25 °C. After 1 h in the freezer, the larvae and pupae exposed to this cold-shock are also transferred to 25 °C. Larvae and pupae are then allowed to continue development and the number of adults emerging from each group is counted. The results demonstrate that survival decreases linearly with the period of exposure at both 3 °C and 6 °C. Mortality is higher at 3 °C than at 6 °C and, in groups that receive the cold shock, cold-shock reduces emergence by over 50%. However, there is no consistent tendency for diapausing larvae to survive prolonged cold or cold shock better than other life-cycle stages. The results suggest that the facultative development of an overwintering diapause stage in L. sericata does not appear to be an adaptation to enhance cold tolerance or resistance to cold shock. It is concluded that the survival of overwintering L. sericata is likely to be relatively less affected by low temperatures than it is by, for example, biotic factors, particularly given the buffered soil environment and short time-scales over which periods of cold act.

    Full details in the University publications repository