Honors Theses


Karolyn M. Hansen



Publication Date

Spring 4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Lucilia sericata is a species of blow fly that has important applications in the fields of forensic entomology and medicine. L. sericata is one of the first organisms that arrives at decaying carrion in response to decay odors released by the carrion. The attraction stimuli are presumably the decay volatiles, but wind flow, and humidity may also influence the blow fly resource-oriented behavior. This fly species has feather-like structures known as arista that project from the antenna. The function of these structures is not completely understood, however they may play a role in sensing airflow and wind, humidity, and volatile organic compounds. The goal of this project is to gain a deeper understanding of the function of the arista so that it may provide a greater insight into the behavior of the organism. Flies were subjected to arista ablation and were exposed to of a series of choice experiments: air flow with versus without humidity, variable air flow, and with or without carrion odors. Flies were placed in a reaction chamber and allowed to choose between the wind, speed, humidity, and odor variables and their behavior was observed. Fly choice was recorded as landing/hovering in the area of the stimulus introduction port. Preliminary data indicate that non-ablated flies actively select humid airflow. The data showed the arista played a role in sensing wind and airflow.

Permission Statement

This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Biology | Life Sciences

Included in

Biology Commons