Male Fruit Flies Turn To The Bottle To Cope With Rejection

Polly Curtin

Apparently it’s not just humans who turn to alcohol for some reconciliation when rejected by the opposite sex! But male fruit flies indeed too, like to drink away their problems.

Results of a study by Shohat-Ophir et al showed that males who remained unmated had a preference for food which had a high alcohol content, whereas males who had mated did not. Is this a justifiable and enjoyable compensation for a romantic dismissal?

Although it may seem that the male fruit flies are attempting to drown their sorrows, there apparently is a scientific explanation behind all the drama. Males who got lucky with the ladies, tended to have higher levels of a chemical in the brain called neuropeptide F, which increases when the male has received something enjoyable. Whereas males who weren’t so fortuitous with the females had lower levels of this neuropeptide. Thus, by turning to the bottle in the form of a high alcohol content food, the rejected males can boost their feelings and gain a feeling of satisfaction.

Although the image of a male fruit fly consuming alcohol seems rather amusing, it does have wider applications in terms of how rewarding behaviour is reflected in the brain.

Polly Curtin

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