Dating advice from a blow fly

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The photoreceptors in blow fly eyes help filter out incompatible mates.
Credit: SFU

A recent study led by Simon Fraser University researcher Gerhard Gries uncovered the dating tool utilised by blow flies to filter out incompatible contenders and find their perfect soul mate.

The research published in BioMed Central unveiled that the complex sexual communication system was orchestrated by photoreceptors located within the fly’s eyes. “We discovered that the immense processing speed of flow flies’ photoreceptors in their large sexually dimorphic eyes played a critical role in their visual mate recognition system” says Gries.

Young single female blow flies shared their personal mating profiles by reflecting light off their wings at the precise frequency of 178, Hertz (Hz), or light flashes per second, to attract their male counterparts which communicate at a frequency of 212 Hz. “They use light flash frequency from their wings to communicate to their peer’s things like age, sex and even mating status” Gris explains.

In this study, researchers mimicked this form of sexual communication by utilising a pulsing LED light set to 178 Hz to match the frequency of the female blow fly signals.

Remarkably, the transmission of these light flashes alone was sufficient to attract male blow flies, even in the absence of any female flies.

The intricacies of this dating system enables single blow flies on the search for a mate the ability to be a bit picky.

They can screen for the desired age and sex of their prospective partners simply by filtering out certain flash frequencies from the pool of all those transmitted.

Sound familiar? Gries compares this natural mating recognition system to the modern dating app, Tinder, which utilises similar screening techniques to ensure prospective matches possess the suitable age and sex status.

Michael Hrabar, another member of the SFU research team, suggests that all single, dating app users could take a few pointers from the blow fly.

Hrabar says that “like blow flies humans are really good at filtering information” and proposes that “through a thoughtfully crafted profile you can attract potential partners through your interests, education and other attractive traits.”

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