The pre-mating behavior of female Drosophila pseudoobscura has been considered passive and “coy” relative to more active, “ardent,” and indiscriminate male behavior. To test whether this long-held view—the “received wisdom” about mating behavior in Drosophila—is really true we carried out observations on how often D. pseudoobscura females approached males prior to courtship and copulation. By including only virgin females and males in the experiments, we eliminated the possibility that males are “coy” due to sperm limitation and females flexibly “coy” due to male manipulations that may affect the duration of remating inhibition. We observed the movements of females and males in vials during the first five minutes of exposure to one another. Video records revealed females went toward males as frequently as males toward females; we inferred that females were as interested in males as males in females. The total number of offspring emerging as adults correlated significantly with mutual, precourtship interest of both males and females in their vial-mates and latency to copulation. Thus, we hypothesize that females in nature approach males, perhaps actively soliciting male courtship simply by remaining close to them.
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Vol. 56 • No. 12