Dorsal closure is a morphogenic process that involves the interplay of mechanical forces as two opposing epithelial sheets come together and fuse. These forces impact cell shape and the rate of morphogenesis, but the molecular pathways that translate mechanical force into phenotype are not well understood. Now, on p. 325, Daniel Kiehart and colleagues demonstrate a role for calcium signalling via mechanically gated ion channels (MGCs) in Drosophila dorsal closure. Using UV-induced calcium release, the authors show that increased calcium levels stimulate contractility during dorsal closure, whereas treatment with a calcium-chelating agent disrupts closure. Via a series of pharmacological perturbations, the authors demonstrate that MGCs regulate actomyosin contraction that, in turn, is required for force production and successful dorsal closure. The authors support their findings by knocking down two separate MGC subunits, which also leads to a failure to generate sufficient force for dorsal closure. This study paves the way for investigating MGCs in other morphogenic processes, for example during wound repair.