A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Dirty Dancing on the Fly

Sometimes a photo opportunity may come when you are not expecting it or when it is not convenient.   I was out taking some photos of flowers for my other project and realized that the local insects had other things on their mind.


A pair of platysomatid flies (Genus Rivellia) were performing a courtship dance on my left ring finger.  These odd looking flies are often confused for fruit flies but are their own distinct genus.   The description in my Kaufman’s Guide to Insects of North America says their “biology and life histories are essentially unknown”.  Well, I can vouch for a bit of their courtship behavior.


The female fly leads the dance with the male fly mirroring her every step in a close formation directly behind her.  Both flies will flip their wings as the dance zigs and zags across the dancefloor, in this case, my finger.


As the dance progresses the male closes the gap making the dance more and more intimate until…


the female pauses for a brief moment allowing the male to mount the female and transfer sperm.  (I’m just glad my cuticles look as good as they do!)


The actual even of mating lasted only a couple of seconds before the male released his grasp.



As soon as the act was finished the dance picked up again and the male quickly jumped back into the rhythm of the females lead.  I can only assume the mating continued after they flew away from the voyeuristic primate with a camera pointed at them.

Take not of the little things and relish the small beauties and wonders that are, sometimes, literally on your fingertip.


2 responses

  1. What an amazing series of photos! Great detail. Well done! (P.S. I’m looking for a good insect guide … is Kaufman’s Guide one you’ recommend? Any others? Thanks.

    July 22, 2016 at 11:24

  2. Kaufmans was recommended to me by an entomologist friend. It’s my work-workhorse. From there it’s gets very specific and very technical quickly!

    July 22, 2016 at 11:37

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