The life-history of Contarinia nasturtii (Kieff.), a gall-forming pest of swedes, was investigated in northern England in 1958–60, particular attention being paid to the influence of temperature and moisture on development in the soil. Most of the observations were made under controlled conditions in the laboratory, although much of the material came from the field.
The adults emerge from the soil, mate, and live 1–3 days. In laboratory conditions, each female developed about 95 eggs, laid in batches of 2–50 on the young leaves of the host plant, and produced 78·7±11·4 unisexual larval progeny. The eggs require moist conditions, and hatched according to temperature after 1–10 days at 30–10°C. The larvae fed for 7–21 days at 25–15°C., producing a gall.
The full-grown larvae burrow into the soil. It was found that they either pupated in oval-shaped cocoons just below the surface, producing adults 10–48 days later (at 25–12°C.) or become dormant in spherical cocoons. At 32·5°C. the pupae died, and below 32·5°C. males developed faster than females by about 24 hours.
Dormancy is caused either by diapause, in which case the larvae require prolonged chilling before development can be resumed, or by drought, in which case development is resumed immediately in response to wetting.
The incidence of diapause increased regularly during the summer generations, probably in response to decreasing day-length, and the larvae tended to avoid diapause when placed in high temperatures (e.g., 25°C.). The firmness of diapause appeared to vary according to the conditions experienced by the feeding and full-grown larvae, but, in general, the larvae completed diapause development after 100 days at 2–5°C. followed by 30 days at 20–25°C., i.e., after exposure to conditions similar to those experienced by the diapause larvae during winter and spring.
Dormancy due to drought (quiescence) affected both non-diapause and post-diapause larvae; the former became quiescent on entering dry soil (pF>3·5–4·0), and the latter remained inactive if kept in dry or even in moist soil (pF 3·4) after completing diapause. In both cases, the termination of dormancy occurred immediately in response to a thorough wetting of the soil. The larvae left their spherical cocoons, moved to the surface, re-entered the ground and pupated in oval cocoons as if entering the soil for the first time.
Factors that delay pupation of C. nasturtii similarly delay the development of its Hymenopterous parasites and hence synchronise the emergence of the adult parasites with the host's feeding stage.