There are variations in the more than 100,000 species of flies, and there’s always still more to discover, but scientists know the basic mechanism. Some flies mate in the air while swarming, others on the surface where the eggs will be laid. Different species have various means to spread pheremones, often involving spreading the chemicals on their wings and fanning them, to attract a mate by smell. Some species have elaborate courtship rituals, involving the movement of different body parts and even the giving of nutrient “gifts.” Then compulation takes place at the female’s choice, and the mating itself can take from minutes to hours depending on the species. Then the female lays eggs: she selects a site like a rotting fruit, tests it, drills into the surface with an organ called an ovipositor, and lays the eggs in the hole. Many species will leave more pheremones to keep other females from leaving eggs there.
Some other interesting experiments have been done to learn more about the male process of mating. Anatomical studies reveal that some male flies have to twist their abdomen 180 or a full 360 degrees, a process called torsion, to get their reproductive organs int eh right place for mating. Another group of researchers “shaved” a flies of their specialized bristles with a laser, to see what role they play in mating; it turns out, they act like Velcro to help the male accomplish the deed!
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