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Fruit flies refuse to lay their eggs in lion poop

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ruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, refuse to lay their eggs in the dung of lions. Photo by Marcus Stensmyr/Lund University

By Brooks Hays, UPI

New research suggests fruit flies are particular about where they lay their eggs.

When it comes to incubation, fruit flies prefer rotten fruit, but the insects will also lay their eggs in giraffe feces. The tiny flies refuse, however, to deposit their eggs in the droppings of lions.

The new research, part of the doctoral thesis compiled by Suzan Mansourian, a researcher at Lund University in Sweden, offers new insights into the network of neurons that govern the fruit fly's decision making.

Mansourian worked to map the receptors found on the fruit fly's antennae, nerves and neural pathways that help the insect locate food, sense humidity and find reproductive partners. The fly's receptors also help the insect identify ideal egg-laying locations.

As revealed by the new research, different receptors react to different chemicals. Some receive fragrance molecules released by rotting fruit. The receptors help the fly follow higher and higher concentrations of the molecule and track down the meal.

Another sensor picks up phenol, a molecule released by bacteria found on the feces of predators. Fruit flies consider the excrement of predators like lions unsafe for larvae. Phenol lets them know to steer clear.

However, the new research showed fruit flies are content to lay their eggs in the phenol-free dung of giraffes.

Humidity receptors also help fruit flies find food, as well as stay hydrated. The receptors help fruit flies make their way to fruit-filled kitchens, where humidity levels are often elevated.

By better understanding how the fruit fly navigates and makes decisions, researchers can potentially devise better ways to curtail problematic insect populations.

"These results could lead to new approaches and strategies in combating mosquitoes and insect pests," Mansourian said in a news release.

Mansourian is set to defend her thesis later this week.

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Technology - U.S. Daily News: Fruit flies refuse to lay their eggs in lion poop
Fruit flies refuse to lay their eggs in lion poop
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Technology - U.S. Daily News
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