Yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria (L.)) populations on cow pastures in Central Europe usually show a characteristic summer decline in fly numbers. This has been related to their sensitivity to hot temperatures, but where and in what state the flies spend the summer has remained unclear. Field enclosure experiments revealed no evidence for survival over summer in the pupal stage, as adults never emerged in early autumn from eggs laid in late spring. Laboratory and field evidence shows instead that adults acclimatize physiologically by suppressing reproduction in favour of accumulating lipid (but not glycogen) reserves. Apparently they spend the summer in cooler, forested areas close to the pastures. As reproduction is not entirely shut down, it is suggested that this represents quiescence rather than diapause. Presumably this increases the survival of the flies during the hottest time of the season, and appears to be a flexible life‐history strategy, particularly for late‐born spring generation individuals.