Signal Flies – Family Platystomatidae

Signal Flies – Family Platystomatidae

Signal Fly Platystoma seminationis

Platystoma seminationis (above) was very abundant in tall grass in a weedy field near the west branch of the DuPage River in Illinois. Size = 6mm

Signal flies are a group of small flies that belong to the family Platystomatidae. These flies are known for their unique behavior, which involves using visual and acoustic signals to communicate with each other.

Family Platystomatidae consists of over 700 species, found worldwide in forests, grasslands, and wetlands. They range in size from 3 to 12 millimeters.

Signal Fly Rivellia sp.Signal Fly Rivellia sp. Size = 4mm

Male signal flies produce a distinctive buzzing sound by rapidly vibrating their wings. This acoustic signal is used to attract female flies for mating.

Female flies respond to this signal by flashing their wings in a specific pattern, identifying her species to the prospective mate.

Signal Fly Rivellia sp.

This tiny fly was found in Ogle County, Illinois, near the Rock River

Signal flies also use visual cues for communication. Males of some species have brightly colored abdominal segments that they display during courtship. Reflective patches on their wings are also used in courtship displays.

There are 41 described species in 4 genera in North America. Signal flies range in size from 3 to 12mm.

References:, Family Platystomatidae – Signal Flies Signal Fly


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