Three months ago I started the Flyday series to share photo’s and stories with you of different flies I encountered this year. For me it was fun to do, because it helped me sort the pictures I took, while learning more about various flies. Before I started this series, I was more familiar with beetles and birds. Unfortunately though my stash of suitable fly pictures has almost reached its end. Of course there is a lot more information out there on flies, but the pictures I took were either of really poor quality or I couldn’t determine the species. Therefore, I decided to end this blog series (for now) with a recap and some pictures I liked of known or unknown flies.
What exactly makes a fly a fly? Flies are members of the order Diptera. Mosquitoes are also members of this order. Diptera means “two wings” and these insects have 2 pairs of wings, but only use one pair for flying. The other pair (halteres) are very small and are mainly used for balance. Other typical fly features are: large eyes, small antennae and mouthparts for sucking, piercing or lapping. I found it especially useful to look at the antennae when determining whether I was dealing with a fly, a bee or a wasp.
While searching for information for this series, I learned a couple of interesting things:
- Unlike their negative reputation, flies actually do pretty useful things. A number of flies start their lives in faeces, where they eat other insect larvae or help in the break-down process. Other larvae eat rotting meat (which can be exploited for medical purposes) or other waste and bacteria (helps reduce stench). When fully developed, some flies play an important role in pollination. Of course there are harmful flies out in the wild, but not all flies are that bad!
- There is great variety in looks between species. Some flies look like monsters, others look bright or copy their looks from other insects like bees, wasps or ants. But don’t let this fool you. Look at the wings, the eyes and the antennae and you should be able to tell if you are dealing with a fly or not. In addition, a number of flies are sexually dimorphic, so you can easily tell which gender a specimen has. Most of the time the difference is in the eyes, however a difference in colouration might also be an indicator.
- Certain flies may display interesting behaviour that raised questions for me. For example blowing bubbles or mating rituals. Not always is the fly itself responsible for acting weird. Turns out that a fungus infection can seriously mess up the lives of flies!
I really enjoyed writing this series and maybe there will be a sequel in the next year. This does not mean that I won’t post anything else! So do come back for other nature related posts 🙂
For now, I wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year filled with awesome nature encounters!