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Neurigona courtship
Neurigona courtship

(by Tony Irwin) Sunday 27 May 2007 was a dull, cold day and I nearly didn't take my camera on the dog walk. There was very little of interest in the woods until we came to an old ash (Fraxinus excelsior) tree which had lots of beetle (Anobium?) emergence holes. Beside the holes sat a female Neurigona quadrifasciata (Dolichopodidae). As I was getting the camera ready, a male appeared and rapidly approached her from behind, waving his wings rapidly.

He stepped up to the female from behind, with his abdomen and his fore legs raised and with his mid and hind legs just behind the female's mid and hind legs. His wings were in constant motion (Figure 1).
Figure 1.

Gradually he lowered his forelegs down beside the female's head, so that she could see the pennate black and white tarsal segments on either side. He also stepped back slightly with his hind legs (Figures 2-4).
Figure 2.
Figure 3.
Figure 4.

Presumably he was satisfied that the female recognised him as a suitable mate, and he stepped further back with his hind legs and at the same time pulled his forelegs back so that they rested on the female's wings, just behind her thorax. His abdomen was lowered and began to curl under the female (Figure 5).
Figure 5.

His wings stopped moving, his abdomen extended forwards and the claspers opened and shut (Figure 6-8).
Figure 6.
Figure 7.
Figure 8.

Suddenly he grasped the female's abdomen (Figure 9), then adjusted his position by straightening up slightly (Figure 10).
Figure 9.
Figure 10.
At this point they began to move off together towards the beetle burrows, and I caught them.

Nearly fifty years ago, Ken Smith recorded the mating behaviour of Neurigona (1959, Entomologists' Monthly Magazine 95: 32-33), but it was still satisfying to discover it for myself. It is particularly pleasing to see a male dolichopodid actually using its modified tarsi to communicate with a female.

Interestingly, Ken's account differs from mine in a few details. He recorded the male waving its fore-tarsi alternately in front of each eye. I was too busy taking shots to notice, but from the pictures, it appears that the tarsi are lowered at the same time. Also Ken noticed that the wing waving started slowly, only speeding up when the abdomen curved under the female, then stopping on copulation. With mine, the male wings were beating rapidly, but stopped when the male curved its abdomen under the female. Another difference was that Ken's male continued its tarsal display until copulation, only then did it draw its fore-tarsi back on to the female.

I wonder whether these were just differences between individuals, or are there local differences, or did I observe a 21st century approach to courtship? Unless I have the dedication of someone like Nikita (see his article on Medetera courtship), I don't think I'm likely to find out!

The photos were all taken hand-held, without flash, at 1/100th second, aperture 6.3 to 7.1, using a Canon EFS 60mm macro on a Canon EOS350D.
Comments
#1 | Tony Irwin on 18 June 2007 13:32:49
Hey, Paul -
It's very noble of you to spare me the embarassment of admitting I took these indifferent photos, but I can't stand by and let you take all the criticism! Pfft
It was me folks! Sad
#2 | Paul Beuk on 18 June 2007 14:39:58
Sorry, Tony, that's a result of you not submitting it through the 'proper' Submit Article link. Everything that is added through the site administrator's panel is accredited to the site administrator. I need to make a separate change in the database to make your name show up. Wink BTW: That's done now.
#3 | Tony Irwin on 18 June 2007 16:46:40
Mea culpa! Angry
Apologies.Smile
#4 | Paul Beuk on 18 June 2007 20:17:52
No real need to apologise, you probably had no reason you could have known that. Grin
#5 | jorgemotalmeida on 19 June 2007 20:57:44
I can try to observe with care these kind of events for doli.
The sequency of photos are very interesting and a great valuable resource for natural history. Smile
#6 | Paul Beuk on 19 June 2007 22:21:01
It has been in for less than two days and Google search 'Neurigona courtship' already gives the article on number one. Grin
#7 | Robert Nash on 20 June 2007 09:51:18
Another terrific photo essay Tony Grin.
This morning I put a link through from the Wikipedia page.This poor page needs much more attention. I will try for more on behaviour first . This link was easily found and is very highly recommended (http://beheco.oxf...l/14/4/526) but can anyone add more behaviour links or send them to me?

Congratulations again.

Robert

http://en.wikiped...chopodidae
#8 | Paul Beuk on 20 June 2007 10:13:25
Direct download of the paper recommended by Robert is HERE.
#9 | Nikita Vikhrev on 20 June 2007 13:12:39
Tony, I think that Ken Smith?s and your accounts almost completely according. For example, Medetera jacula males in 1/3 cases do not regard it nessesary at all to move wings to seduce female and sometimes still get what they want. Our own courtship rather differs tooGrin
I wish someday to see (or to reed) how acts males of Neurigona from species with not modified legs.
Nikita
#10 | Stephen on 04 July 2007 12:19:19
Fascinating. And a reinforcment: always take the camera on the dog walks! Glad you didn't miss this.
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08.08.18 17:00
See also on: twitter :-)

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SD is now available under: https://diptera.dk
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Dryomyza anilis

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27.07.18 12:53
Hi Tony No it is right, I,m wondering if an old name or error?

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Hello Hope you are all surviving the heat! Can any1 help with todays name for paregle aestival? Thx

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Why can I not add a File? It matches all rules! Gunther

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