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TERRITORIALITY IN THE DRONE FLY, ERISTALIS TENAX (DIPTERA: SYRPHIDAE)

  • W. G. Wellington (a1) and Sheila M. Fitzpatrick (a1)

Abstract

When male drone flies (Eristalis tenax (L.)) of the spring and summer generations stop dispersing, they settle within individual home ranges that provide them with sheltering, resting, basking, grooming, feeding, and mating sites. Away from its mating place, a resident male rarely responds to other insects. On its mating site, however, it is territorial, attacking alien species, such as bees, wasps, and butterflies, as well as conspecific intruders. Territorial duty is demanding, and resident males take rest periods outside their territories whenever they can. When prevented from doing so, either by sky conditions which confine them to the territory, or by crowding which eliminates many neutral sites, they become increasingly aggressive. Males on open, horizontal territories (e.g., in flowerbeds) are more likely to notice intruders, and therefore are more liable to attack them, than males on vertical territories (e.g., on broad-leaved shrubs). The aggressiveness of E. tenax has social and ecological ramifications beyond its own species, since bees may stop foraging and aphidophagous syrphids may not oviposit in places where drone flies are exceptionally active.

Après sa période de dispersion, le mâle de la mouche Eristalis tenax (L.) issu des générations printanières et estivales s’établit dans son domaine vital. Ceci lui procure des sites pour s’abriter, se reposer, prendre du soleil, faire sa toilette, se nourrir et s’accoupler. Un résident s’en prend rarement aux autres insectes sauf s’il se trouve sur son site d’accouplement. Il devient alors territorial, attaquant tout intrus de son espèce et même, les abeilles, les quêpes et les papillions. Mais la défense du territoire est exigeante et les mâles doivent se reposer hors de leurs territoires. Ils deviennent plus agressifs quand ils sont restreints à leurs territoires par les conditions météorologiques ou par la rareté des sites neutres causée par l’encombrement. Les résidents des territoires horizontaux et ouverts, les plates-bandes p. ex., peuvent facilement apercevoir les intrus. Ils sont donc susceptibles de réagir plus souvent que les résidents des territoires verticaux comme les arbustes à feuilles largest L’agressivité d’E. tenax a des ramifications sociales et écologiques pour d’autres espèces. Là où ils sont très actifs, les mâles peuvent empêcher le fourragement des abeilles et l’oviposition des syrphidés aphidophages.

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References

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