LabBench Activity

Observing Behaviors: Fruit Fly Mating Behavior

There are hundreds of species of fruit flies — so how do members of the same species find each other and signal willingness to mate? Each species has evolved a complex series of behaviors that appear to be genetically programmed. In this activity, you observe the mating dance of Drosophila melanogaster and then design your own experiment to investigate some aspect of mating behavior.

Above are sketches of some behaviors you may see. Print the sketches, take them to the laboratory with you, and refer to them as you observe your own flies. After you place your flies in a common vial it will take a few minutes for them to acclimate to their new environment, so be patient and quiet as you wait for the dance to begin. Record your observations.

In the next section, you will observe the behavior of another organism, the pillbug.