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Signal Fly

Senopterina sp.

a small fly, Senopterina sp.,  photo © by Mike Plagens

a small fly, Senopterina sp.,  photo © by Mike Plagens

This fly was found in Rainbow Valley, s.w. Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. May 2010. It was visiting fresh animal dung.

Platystomatidae -- Signal Fly Family

One of the goals of the Sonoran Desert Naturalist is to entice readers to reflect on the incredible diversity and fascination that exists among the small creatures that inhabit Arizona's desert. Most people, when they think of flies, think of annoying, germ-carrying visitors at picnics or uninvited guests in the kitchen. Imagine, however, the tens of thousands of fly species that inhabitat our gardens and wild places with habits and biologies that are themselves wild! They never bother people and are not causes of disease. Instead, each fly species fills some vital cog in the ecosystem. How these signal flies pictured here fit into the Sonoran Desert is not fully known ... chances are they are involved in the decoposition of plant material ... maybe a cactus that has died and needs to be recycled.

Signal Flies engage in complex dances that involve spinning, side-stepping, and fluttering the wings. Males arriving at a possible food source immediately begin waving their wings and identifying the most likely spots to defend. The exact choriography is important for females in identifying suitable males.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010