Sex-Deprived Flies Seek Swig Solace

Sexually frustrated fruit flies preferred alcohol-laced food more than their satisfied compatriots did.

Cynthia Graber

You know the scene—it’s a Friday night, and your date just canceled. You’re bummed, maybe a little hurt. You think now might be a good time for a beer, maybe a bourbon. And you have good company: fruit flies. Turns out that sexually deprived male fruit flies hit the bottle more frequently than sexually satisfied ones.

Researchers placed one group of males repeatedly in a container with females who’d already mated. Those females were no longer receptive to sex. So the males learned to stop trying.

The scientists placed another group with virgin females, who were receptive. Then they offered the two groups of males a choice of food. One choice was supplemented with ethanol. And the sexually frustrated flies dove for the drink in significantly greater numbers.

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