Nature on our doorsteps: Dancing to impress

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

It is always worth the time it takes to look more closely in Nature. 

This is easy when watching a lovely butterfly or a ladybird. 

Females of this long legged species do not have the white wing tips of the male compressor

Females of this long-legged species do not have the white wing-tips of the male

Observing flies very closely, however, might not be so inviting for everyone.

One fly that certainly deserves a closer look is a long-legged species that occurs commonly around ponds, or in lush, damp grass. 

The male of this interesting species is a lovely glittery green and gold colour, and his smoky grey wings have distinctive white tips.

When courting a female, the male begins a fascinating dance routine.  He quickly flicks his white-tipped wings open and closed, while also raising and lowering them. 

He may also quickly circle around the female in an arc, re-appearing on the other side of her in milliseconds.

The semaphore fly is a lovely green and gold colour with white tips to its wings compressor

The 'semaphore' fly is a lovely green and gold colour with white tips to its wings

Larger males create a more impressive display, suggesting he is strong and healthy and is therefore a good bet! 

Nonetheless, if his dance moves do not impress her, the female simply flies away.

This species does not appear to have an accepted common name, but it has been called the ‘semaphore fly’ by some. 

This is due to the way the male uses its wings to send coded messages, just like the aeroplane marshal who uses flags or batons to signal to the pilot as he guides an aircraft into position.

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