This is a message to my from my friend, biologist Lynn Faust:
Just for fun, am sending you this photo of a cool little fly that put on quite a show for me last May near (not in) the traps in the Smokies. He landed on the roof of my car and proceeding to fan his wings like a peacock and slowly turn and preen. Every time I scared him off with my camera, he circled and returned and spread his wings again. This went on for 30 minutes until I finally needed to leave. I never saw another fly (female) so it was as if he(?) was displaying for me. Of course I did not know what type of fly he was at the time, but just on a guess, googled “peacock fly” and found very similar photos in the Tephritidae family. So, I am asking nothing, just sharing this fun photo since you love flies. Sorry it is not a phorid! Lynn Faust
Actually, it is a ulidiid, not a tephritid, and a very entertaining one! Thanks, Lynn.
I suppose I could have come up with a better title, but with all due respect to my friend and mentor Dr. Steve Marshall, the family Sphaeroceridae does not often lend itself to superlatives. You wouldn’t know this from reading his recent book, Flies: the natural history and diversity of Diptera, however, in which Steve gushes appreciatively about the hordes of dingy, drab brown flies that swarm over cow pies. He reserves special appreciation for the subfamily Homalomitrinae, a group he co-described with his colleague Jindrich Rohacek. These flies, unlike their relatively dull relatives, are bizarre looking creatures, with reduced wing venation, flattened heads, and thickened leg segments. The original specimen was a female collected with army ants in Brazil in 1930; others were found to be attracted to lights. The six known species are organized into three genera: 4 species in Homalomitra, 1 species in Sphaeromitra, and one in Podiomitra. There are fewer than 20 specimens known.
Look at the strange head, unusual “feet”, and incredibly reduced wing venation on this fly. Amazingly, we have collected at least three more already in our All Diptera Biodiversity Survey in Costa Rica, all from light traps. It will be interesting to see what other strange creatures are uncovered by our intensive survey of this tropical cloud forest. (photo by Inna Strazhnik).