Pawpaws and flies

david.j.daulton djd at cbnewsg.cb.att.com
Wed Mar 17 10:25:09 EST 1993


I am an amateur enthusiast of the common pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba) (there 
are stranger things one can be).   While reading through some correspondence
from fellow enthusiasts (yes, there is more than one of us), I came across
some advice about using rotting meat to encourage pawpaw pollination.
(Seriously.)

The idea is that, since there is evidence that pawpaws are pollinated by flies,
encouranging flies will encourage pollination.  But I was reading the latest
issue of Natural History magazine (arrived yesterday), which had an
article on fly pollination.  It mentioned that some fly pollinators in the
maggot stage prey on on other insects, leading me to believe they may not
be the same as "garbage" and "offal" type flies.  (It also mentioned that
some different species of flies are extremely difficult to tell apart.)

So, I wonder if rotting meat might draw in the wrong flies?  (I am not aware
of pawpaw flowers having a putrid aroma--I will check into that.)

Another interesting factoid--while reading the book "Shawnee", about that
native American Indian tribe (which lived in the same Midwest areas where the
pawpaw grows), I was reading about how the Shawnee prepared meat by drying,
and the book quotes an old source as saying flies were not a problem then,
since "in those days" one only saw "green" flies.

I don't know which (or how many) species "green" might describe in flies,
and I don't even know how that implies that flies were not a problem while
drying meat, but I thought it might have some relevance to someone out there.

Anyway, can anyone offer facts or theories about the efficacy of using
rotting meat to encourage pawpaw pollination?

Dave Daulton, Columbus, Ohio

P.S.  Alternative spelling of "pawpaw" is "papaw", in case one is looking
it up.



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