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Every toadstool’s a stage

May 20, 2020

For Fungus Flies (Tapeigaster sp.), pictured left, all of life’s dramas are carried out on the surface of a mushroom. The mushroom represents a combat zone, boudoir and nursery. The wet start to autumn means there are mushrooms a-plenty and hence heaps of drama for the flies. Australia has dozens of native Fungus Fly species and several introduced ones. They all live in the cool temperature south east of the continent.

For the males in Fungus Fly world the chances of mating depend on the attractiveness of the mushroom you ‘own’. A male fly will patrol the perimeter of its mushroom to ward off any male intruders. Ownership disputes are settled by a boxing match. Each male will raise its front pair of legs and ‘box’ the other until one of the combatants gives up and flies away.

If the male is successful in attracting a female mating occurs on the mushroom and soon after the female fly lays eggs (pictured above right) in the mushroom. The resulting larvae rapidly consume the mushroom leaving it as a heap of ooze in a matter of days.

There is a twist to the tale however. Like all flies, after mating the male and female fly off leaving the young to fend for themselves. This leaves the maggots vulnerable to predation if they venture too close to the surface of the mushroom. Pictured below is an ant carrying off a Fungus Fly maggot for dinner, either for itself or its young.


It’s life and death drama on the mushroom stage.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    May 20, 2020 1:46 pm

    WOW – what a stage!

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