Love at first flight: wing interference patterns are species-specific and sexually dimorphic in blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae)

Publication Name

Journal of Evolutionary Biology


Wing interference patterns (WIPs) are stable structural colours displayed on insect wings which are only visible at specific viewing geometries and against certain backgrounds. These patterns are widespread among flies and wasps, and growing evidence suggests that they may function as species- and sex-specific mating cues in a range of taxa. As such, it is expected that WIPs should differ between species and show clear sexual dimorphisms. However, the true extent to which WIPs vary between species, sexes and individuals is currently unclear, as previous studies have only taken a qualitative approach, without considering how WIPs might be perceived by the insect. Here, we perform the first quantitative analysis of inter- and intra-specific variation in WIPs across seven Australian species of the blowfly genus Chrysomya. Using multispectral digital imaging and a tentative model of blowfly colour vision, we provide quantitative evidence that WIPs are species-specific, highlight that the extent of divergence is greater in males than in females and demonstrate sexual dimorphisms in several species. These data suggest that WIPs have diversified substantially in blowflies as a result of either sexual or ecological selection.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment



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