Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Female wing spreading as acceptance signal in theDrosophila virilis group of species

  • 50 Accesses

  • 18 Citations


Females of manyDrosophila species spread apart their wings prior to copulation. In the present study we found female wing spreading to provoke male copulation attempts inDrosophila virilis-group species, helping the males to attempt copulation when the female is ready to mate. The males of most species, however, rarely responded to female wing spreading by copulation attempt without licking the female genitalia before and/or after female wing spreading bout. Blocking the female genitalia (D. virilis, D. novamexicana) reduces males' tendency to attempt copulation after female wing spreading. In these, and most other species of the group, female wing spreading seems to be an efficient signal only when combined with stimuli from female genitalia.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ewing, A. W. (1983). Functional aspects ofDrosophila courtship.Biol. Rev. 58: 275–292.

  2. Grossfield, J. (1966). The influence of light on the mating behavior ofDrosophila.Stud. Genet. Univ. Tex. Publ. 6615 3: 147–176.

  3. Grossfield, J. (1968). The relative importance of wing utilization in light dependent courtship inDrosophila.Stud. Genet. Univ. Tex. Publ. 6818 4: 147–156.

  4. Hoikkala, A. (1988). The importance of different courtship stimuli in the mating behaviour of european species of theDrosophila virilis group.Ann. Zool. Fennici 25: 257–263.

  5. Hoikkala, A., Lakovaara, S., and Romppainen, E. (1982). Mating behaviour and male courtship sounds in theDrosophila virilis group. In Lakovaara, S. (ed.),Advances in Genetics, Development and Evolution of Drosophila, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 407–421.

  6. Ikeda, H., Idoji, H., and Takabatake, I. (1981). Intraspecific variations in the threshold of female responsiveness for auditory stimuli emitted by the male inDrosophila mercatorum.Zool. Mag. 90:325–332.

  7. Lambert, D. M. (1982). Mate recognition in members of theDrosophila nasuta complex.Anim. Behav. 30: 438–443.

  8. Liimatainen, J. (1993). Courtship signals, their importance and inheritance in the species of theDrosophila virilis group.Acta Univ. Ouluensis A 248.

  9. Liimatainen, J., Hoikkala, A., Aspi, J., and Welbergen, Ph. (1992). Courtship inDrosophila montana: The effects of male auditory signals on the behaviour of flies.Anim. Behav. 43: 35–48.

  10. Spieth, H. T. (1952). Mating behavior within the genusDrosophila (Diptera).Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 99: 401–474.

  11. Spieth, H. T. (1974). Courtship behavior ofDrosophila.Annu. Rev. Entomol. 19: 385–405.

  12. Spieth, H. T., and Hsu, T. C. (1950). The influence of light on seven species of theDrosophila melanogaster species group.Evolution 4: 316–325.

  13. Spieth, H. T., and Ringo, J. M. (1983). Mating behavior and sexual isolation inDrosophila. In Ashburner, M., Carson, H. L., and Thompson, J. N., Jr. (eds.),The Genetics and Biology of Drosophila, Vol. 3c, Academic Press, London, pp. 223–284.

  14. Sturtevant, A. H. (1915). Experiments on sex recognition and the problem of sexual selection inDrosophila.J. Anim. Behav. 5: 351–366.

  15. Sturtevant, A. H. (1921). The North American species ofDrosophila.Carnegie Inst. Publ. 301: 1–150.

  16. Tompkins, L., Hall, J., and Hall, L. M. (1980). Courtship-stimulating volatile compounds from normal and mutantDrosophila.J. Insect Physiol. 26: 689–697.

  17. Welbergen, Ph., van Dijken, F. R., and Scharloo, W. (1987). Collation of the courtship behaviour of the sympatric speciesDrosophila melanogaster andDrosophila simulans.Behaviour 101: 253–274.

  18. Zar, J. H. (1984).Biostatistical Analysis, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vuoristo, M., Isoherranen, E. & Hoikkala, A. Female wing spreading as acceptance signal in theDrosophila virilis group of species. J Insect Behav 9, 505–516 (1996).

Download citation

Key Words

  • courtship
  • female behavior
  • signals
  • Drosophila