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Male Flies Are Better at Mating After Fighting Off Robotic Rival

By New Scientist

June 27, 2023

[article image]

]Scientists at Italy's Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies (SSSA) and University of Pisa found laboratory-reared male fruit flies appear to become more adept at mating after engaging with robotic replicas of rival males.

The researchers introduced three-dimensionally (3D)-printed magnetic replicas of male Mediterranean fruit flies to real flies in an arena.

Moving the replicas using a robotic system underneath the arena toward discs made from citrus leaves where the flies had established dominion provoked territorial behavior.

Males that engaged with the replicas courted longer and had more success in mating in a subsequent experiment.

SSSA's Donato Romano suggested this strategy could improve the success of sterilization programs to contain destructive insect populations by increasing lab-reared males' competitiveness.

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