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The Courtship of Musca Species Found in North America. 1. The House Fly, Musca domestica

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Male house flies, Musca domestica L., perform a stereotyped courtship ritual which includes the following elements : orientation, landing, wing-out, leg-up, head lapping, head touching, boxing, backing, genital orientation, genital contact, and copulation. Although the female plays a minor role in the courtship, she does control its success by either extruding or failing to extrude her ovipositor.

We propose that the primary function of house fly courtship is appeasement. The wing-out and leg-up elements prevent the escape of the female and her kicking in rejection of courtship. The remaining elements communicate the purpose of the male and stimulate both sexes to mate.

Homosexual activities of the males, even in the presence of females, and males courting inanimate objects, indicate a low degree of epigamic recognition.

The courtship of the house fly, initially, appears to be a fixed action pattern that is released by a dark-toned object of appropriate size. However, films of unsuccessful courtships indicate that a stimulus-response chain is involved.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 15, 1973

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  • Annals of the Entomological Society of America is published in January, March, May, July, September, and November. Annals especially invites submission of manuscripts that integrate different areas of insect biology, and address issues that are likely to be of broad relevance to entomologists. Articles also report on basic aspects of the biology of arthropods, divided into categories by subject matter: systematics; ecology and population biology; arthropod biology; arthropods in relation to plant diseases; conservation biology and biodiversity; physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology; morphology, histology, and fine structure; genetics; and behavior.
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