Identifying the contribution of pre‐ and postzygotic barriers to gene flow is a key goal of speciation research. The widespread dung fly species Sepsis cynipsea and Sepsis neocynipsea offer great potential for studying the speciation process over a range of opportunities for gene exchange within and across sister species (cross‐continental allopatry, continental parapatry and sympatry). We examined the role of postcopulatory isolating barriers by comparing female fecundity and egg‐to‐adult viability of F1 and F2 hybrids, as well as backcrosses of F1 hybrids with the parental species, via replicated crosses of sym‐, para‐ and allopatric populations. Egg‐to‐adult viability was strongly but not totally suppressed in hybrids, and offspring production approached nil in the F2 generation (hybrid breakdown), indicating yet unspecified intrinsic incompatibilities. Viable F1 hybrid offspring showed almost absolute male (the heterogametic sex) sterility while females remained largely fertile, in accordance with Haldane's rule. Hybridization between the two species in European areas of sympatry (Swiss Alps) indicated only minor reinforcement based on fecundity traits. Crossing geographically isolated European and North American S. neocynipsea showed similar albeit weaker isolating barriers that are most easily explained by random genetic drift. We conclude that in this system with a biogeographic continuum of reproductive barriers, speciation is mediated primarily by genetic drift following dispersal of flies over a wide (allopatric) geographic range, with some role of natural or sexual selection in incidental or direct reinforcement of incompatibility mechanisms in areas of European sympatry. S(ubs)pecies status of continental S. neocynipsea appears warranted.