Mating Flesh Flies are not Necrophiliacs!!!

Subject: Fly mating with dead fly?
Location: Northeast Florida
June 29, 2014 3:56 pm
I saw this fly (or these flies) today in northeast FL. I thought at first that it was a pair of mating flies and took a few photos. However, it appears that this is a live fly that had been mating with a fly that died, and it was now dragging the dead fly along with it as it walked and flew around. I’ve never seen anything like this before.
Signature: Karen in FL

Flesh Fly matings ends with death of the male!!!
Flesh Fly with dead mate

Dear Karen,
We are positively stunned by your images, which appear to have captured the mating of Flesh Flies in the family Sarcophagidae that ended with the death of one of the partners, from unknown causes.  We can assure you that Flesh Flies do not practice necrophilia, and that for some reason, the individual succumbed while in flagrante delicto, and for yet more unexplained reasons, the sexual bond was not broken after the death.  The red-tipped abdomen is a rather distinctive feature, and upon searching though images on BugGuide, we found at least three genera that have this characteristic:  
SarcophagaOxysarcodexia and Arachnidomyia.  Though they are not necrophiliacs, BugGuide does indicate that:  “Larvae: many species are necrophagous, but some feed in mammalian tissues or parasitize other arthropods (bees, cicadas, termites, grasshoppers/locusts, millipedes), earthworms, or snails(3). Adults feed on various sugar-containing materials such as nectar, sap, fruit juices and honeydew.”  Thanks for providing a very intriguing posting for our site.  Typical Flesh Fly mating should look like this.

Flesh Fly mating ends with death of a partner!!!
Flesh Fly mating ends with death of a partner!!!

Hi Daniel,
I was pretty stunned too when I realized what was going on with that fly! I assumed both flies had been alive when mating began, but I couldn’t imagine what might have killed one partner while leaving the other looking perfectly fine and healthy, except for dragging the dead partner around everywhere it went.
Karen in FL


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