The selection of Drosophila melanogaster sense organ precursors (SOPs) for sensory bristles is a progressive process: each neural equivalence group is transiently defined by the expression of proneural genes (proneural cluster), and neural fate is refined to single cells by Notch-Delta lateral inhibitory signalling between the cells. Unlike sensory bristles, SOPs of chordotonal (stretch receptor) sense organs are tightly clustered. Here we show that for one large adult chordotonal SOP array, clustering results from the progressive accumulation of a large number of SOPs from a persistent proneural cluster. This is achieved by a novel interplay of inductive epidermal growth factor-receptor (EGFR) and competitive Notch signals. EGFR acts in opposition to Notch signalling in two ways: it promotes continuous SOP recruitment despite lateral inhibition, and it attenuates the effect of lateral inhibition on the proneural cluster equivalence group, thus maintaining the persistent proneural cluster. SOP recruitment is reiterative because the inductive signal comes from previously recruited SOPs.