Country diary: mesmerised by the courting ritual of the semaphore flies

Country diary: mesmerised by the courting ritual of the semaphore flies

Crook, Country Durham: in an aquarium at the end of my garden, the female fly reacts with splendid indifference to a frantic whirling dance from her suitor

It might be the glint of sunlight on water that attracts semaphore flies to the little aquarium at the end of the garden, the arena where they perform their entertaining courtship ritual.

Poecilobothrus nobilitatus is small but exquisite, 7mm long, with emerald eyes that burn with inner crimson fire in the sun, a bronze body shot through with green and purple iridescence and, in males, white spots on the wing tips. It can comfortably walk on water, long legs supported by surface tension, where its feet leave tiny dimples.

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