Attractive Female Flies Harmed From Too Much Male Sexual Attention

Posted on June 26, 2015

Drosophila serrata mating pair

Scientists have determined that attractive female flies can be harmed by getting two much male sexual attention. Australian and Canadian researchers found attractive female flies can be so overwhelmed by male attention that they spend more time fending off suitors than laying eggs. A mating pair of Drosophila serrata flies are pictured above.

Associate Professor Steve Chenoweth from The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences says in a statement, "We found that sexually attractive females were overwhelmed by male suitors. Female fruit flies with superior genes that allow them to lay more eggs were so attractive to male suitors they spent most of the time fending off male suitors rather than actually laying eggs. The end result was that these supposedly 'superior' genes could not be passed on to the next generation."

Being too attractive to the opposite sex appears to be a negative for these female flies. They become too overwhelmed to lay eggs and cannot pass on their genes to future flies. The researchers say in their paper, "Behavioral experiments showed that males preferentially courted and mated with high-fitness females, and that the harm associated with this increased male attention eliminated the female fitness advantage."

It is possible these very attractive female flies might have more opportunities to hide from potential suitors outside a lab setting. The research paper was published here in the journal, Current Biology.

Photo: Antoine Morin