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Eristalis courtship

 
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conopid



Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:52 pm    Post subject: Eristalis courtship Reply with quote

For ages now I have been noting Eristalis arbustorum doing that courtship dance where the male hovers above the female. I am sure that I have seen this in E arbustorum, as well as E interruptus (nemorum), but I am led to believe that it is in fact only E interruptus that exhibits this behaviour. Does arbustorum never do this? If this is the case, I am going to have to start looking a LOT more closely at small Eristalis in the field to make sure I am getting the ID right! Sad
Observations appreciated.

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Nigel Jones
Shrewsbury
Shropshire
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John O'Sullivan



Joined: 05 Oct 2005
Posts: 128
Location: Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a good question, conopid. I have tried to check the identity of such flies, and succeeded only in a minority of cases (always nemorum so far). I think what I should do is just net them as soon as I see them displaying, rather than wait in hope for the male to settle so I can check the face etc. In these and many other circumstances, I usually regret it when I am lazy with the net!
Happy hunting.
John
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chris webster



Joined: 19 Jan 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Reading Berks

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every time I see this behaviour it turns out to be interruptus involved. Male arbustorum follow females about, landing nearby.... that's all I've discovered about their courtship!
Male and female interruptus generally closely resemble each other, while arbustorum are markedly smaller, with the female showing little if any yellow on tergite 2, in contrast to the brighter male. At least that's the situation here in Reading this year. However, from the dimensions given in Stubbs & Falk the size difference between the species shouldn't be that obvious. An anomalous year?
I hope a photo of a stack of interruptus is attached.... don't know why the female is waving a front leg!
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John O'Sullivan



Joined: 05 Oct 2005
Posts: 128
Location: Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Chris. The size issue is interesting; several times (not just this year) I have netted on spec what I thought might be Eristalis pertinax, and it has turned out to be a large nemorum. The same has not happened with arbustorum. Of course, hoverflies can vary considerably in size within species, but it does seem to me that nemorum may tend regularly to produce larger individuals than arbustorum does. I'd be interested in the views of others.
A great picture! Could that raised leg be a sign of some alarm by the female at what must have been a fairly overwhelming visual and auditory experience?
JOS
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