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Sex, flies and snacks for bats

July 23, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • The sound of flies copulating attracts bats, who get a two-for-one dinner.
The sound of flies copulating attracts bats, who get a two-for-one dinner. (Stefan Greif / Max Planck…)

Ever want to be a fly on the wall? 

No, you don’t.

Or at least you don't want to be a fly on the wall that's mating with another fly on the wall.

To find out why, read this story in Monday's Times: "Why prolonged sex is dangerous: It can get you killed."

Of course, the headline implies something more than the story delivers. It's not talking about Hugh Hefner, Viagra and his girlfriends. It's talking about the real birds and the bees, or rather, the bats and the flies.

It seems researchers found that mating flies make noise and that noise attracts bats, and the bats don't care if the flies are in the middle of something -- they just eat them both.

Talk about dying for love.

And lest you're about to become enraged at a waste of taxpayer dollars on this study -- well, rest easy, tea party types of America, this one was conducted by Stefan Greif and his colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany.

Still, as fascinated as I am by this study, I'm not sure what it does for the greater good.

Perhaps, though, this nugget from the story holds some promise:

To show that it was not simply the increased size of the copulating couple that attracted the bats, the researchers pinned flies in a copulating position to the ceiling. The bats ignored them. But when the team played the sounds of copulation through speakers, the bats attacked the speakers.

So, in a strange sort of way, what our German friends may have stumbled on is, well, the road to a better flyswatter.

Who knows, maybe in a year or two, there'll be an app, or a game.

Take that, Angry Birds.

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