Peace Lily and a fruit fly

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The inflorescence of the Spathiphyllum cannifolium (Family: Araceae), commonly known as Peace Lily, Spatheflower or White Flag consists a large sheathing, leafy bract or spathe bearing an erect light yellowish spike (above). The common name White Flag comes from this large bract that is white on the inner surface and green on the outer. Embedded in the fleshy spike are the tiny bisexual florets. The inflorescence emits a strong perfume made up of methyl eugenol and other compounds. This attracts mostly small insects that are the pollinating agent.

Members of this family of plants are usually pollinated by bees, flies or beetles. In this species the inflorescence attracted a single fly that was seen on and off. It was easily identified as a fly because of the presence of one pair of wings. Other insects mostly have two pairs.

This is a fruit fly, identified as a male Bactrocera dorsalis, belonging to the insect family Tephritidae (Yong, 1993).

FruitFly(Bactrocera dorsalis)-PeaceLily [wyc]

The fly scrambled along the spike to seek out the sticky, sugary secretions of the florets (above). For a few seconds of feeding, the fly spent many time more to preen its body of the secretions from the florets and the dirt that got transferred to it (see video below).

It meticulously preened its pair of antennae, its fore and hind legs and its body. In fact it spent more time cleaning itself than feeding on the flowery secretions

Any fly bearing pollen on its body will invariably be transferred to the receptive style thus helping in the pollination of the flowers. At the same time fresh pollen will stick to its body. This fly will then visit other plants of similar species and in the process helps in pollination.

YC Wee
27th September 2017

Yong, HS, 1993. Flowers of Spathiphyllum cannifolium (Araceae): A male fruit fly attractant of the methyl eugenol type. Nature Malaysiana 18:61-63.

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