It’s already time for the 6th Flyday! Upon request from my mother I present you the yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria, or strontvlieg in Dutch). This particular fellow is a male. Males are brighter in colour and have yellow/orange fur on the legs. Females are duller in colour and have no brightly coloured leg fur. This difference in looks between the sexes is called sexual dimorphism.
The Latin name is quite a misnomer, as this fly doesn’t eat dung like the name suggests (Scatha = poop; phaga = eat). They do begin their lives very humbly in fresh feces. To avoid drowning in the shit, the eggs have “wings” to keep them afloat. As larvae, they eat other insects that live in dung. As adults, they snack on nectar and smaller insects.
Scientists have studied yellow dung flies for quite some time. Most research has to do with their mating habits. A female fly may mate with a number of different males, but she has control over which sperm fertilises her eggs. Usually there is a preference for large males, but this appears to be dependent on the environment. If there is dung in the vicinity, larger males are more likely to mate. Small males have an advantage when they aren’t around dung. But there are several reasons for these observations. One of the reasons is a difference in mating tactics. You can find more information on alternative mating tactics in this article.
I hope you enjoyed this Flyday post. If you would like a fly (or mosquito) to be featured here, you can leave a comment or sent me a message!