Forty-five seconds of fly swarming

One of my favorite museum exhibits is the round ceiling tank at the Monterey Bay aquarium, where a huge school of silver-colored fish swim in an endless circle. It is hypnotic, fascinating, and strangely calming.

Watching flies in a mating swarm can be that way too. Usually, it is a group of male flies we see, all jockeying for the best position in the air. Presumably, this allows arriving females to recognize those that are superior and choose the male in the “best” position for the one with which they will mate.

Thinking of the Monterey Bay experience, I wanted to document a fly mating swarm, and finally got the chance this summer. A group of empid flies (also known as “dance flies”) were flying in a brilliant shaft of light against a dark conifer background, perfect for my purposes. Let me know what you think of the result!


5 comments on “Forty-five seconds of fly swarming

  1. John Acorn says:

    Very nice! The way they come in and out of focus is especially lovely.

    • admin says:

      John: Yeah, you can actually see their dangling legs.
      Does it make you want to “shout and sing about their two little wings..”?

  2. Jeff Bjorck says:

    I feel strangely calmed! 🙂
    Very cool! But my eyes are not good enough to see any legs.

  3. John Acorn says:

    It does indeed make me want to sing, those very words! Speaking of which, I tried to get a good sound recording of a chironomid swarm this summer. I’ll send it to you, but I can certainly do better.

  4. I like this topic. I have always thought it might be beneficial to record data about fly swarms–dates, numbers, characteristics, etc. They are a neat natural event, even though people seem to have phobias about them. I have posted some photos from two similar events here:

    and here:

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