A stack of conopid flies, three males standing on a female!

Female Physocephala tibialis with three males trying to claim her. Brampton Ontario

The first place winner of the 2022 ESC Photo Contest is Bob Noble, who captured this amazing image of a mating pileup of conopid flies. Let’s find out some more about this cool shot!


How did this image come about?

I was taking pictures of bees and butterflies in a part of Heart Lake Conservation Area that has a lot of wildflower plantings. I was in an area with goldenrod when I spotted a clump of something that included two Physocephala tibialis  (a male and a female) and a Japanese Beetle. The flies seemed to move on from the beetle and they were joined by another male bringing the total to 3 flies. About 5 minutes later a third male joined in and then there was a lot of jockeying around for position. During this time I had to use one hand to hold the plant stem in the position I wanted and was shooting with the other. After about 90 pictures and 10 minutes the flies finally managed to get their formation lined up perfectly and I got the picture.

What do you like best about this image?

That all of the flies are in focus with a background that wasn’t too busy.

What is one piece of advice you would give to newcomers to insect photography?

Always keep practicing and learning so that you get more understanding of both your equipment and your subjects.