Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

A bat-fly with high level of social behaviour

The wingless bat-fly, Mystacinobia zelandica, lives in large communities in roosts of the short-tailed bat, and requires temperatures of around 30° for development and survival (much higher temperatures than those outside the roost).

  • Adults and larvae feed on bat guano.
  • Dispersal of bat-flies to other bat colonies depends on transport by the bats: as many as 10 bat-flies may be found in the fur of 1 bat when it leaves its roost to feed at night.
  • The bat-fly has a level of social behaviour unknown in any other fly (Diptera) in the world, including:
    • parents live side by side with their progeny;
    • mutual grooming between adults and larvae;
    • males have an extended life-span to produce a sound-producing guard (soldier) caste.