National Geographic Society Newsroom

The Hazards of Fly Sex

  Birds do it, bees do it, and flies do it too. However, when flies have sex, they may end up on the menu of a hungry bat. Researchers at the Max Plank Institute for Ornithology observed bats and flies living in a cowshed in Germany. Typically, the flies were nearly invisible to the bats’...

Photo by Shaul Sitton

 

Birds do it, bees do it, and flies do it too. However, when flies have sex, they may end up on the menu of a hungry bat. Researchers at the Max Plank Institute for Ornithology observed bats and flies living in a cowshed in Germany. Typically, the flies were nearly invisible to the bats’ sonar at night, but this all changed when flies got busy. During sex, male flies produce noisy broadband buzzing sounds that bats are able to hear and home in on. About five percent of copulating flies were attacked by bats, and most of them were eaten. So now we know why bats swallowed the fly.

This study was published in the July 24th issue of Current Biology.

For all the latest science news, check out the National Geographic’s twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Author

Michael Jourdan
Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.