By modulating wing beat frequency, and thus light flash frequency, the flies effectively communicate to their peers their sex, age, and possibly even mating status.
Using video technology to capture and measure wing flash frequency we were able to show that male flies are attracted to specific flash frequencies and not the morphological characteristics of the female flies." Males are strongly attracted to a wing flash frequency of 178Hz, which is characteristic of free flying young females, rather than 212, 235 or 266Hz, which are characteristic of young males, old females and old males, respectively.
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.
Susan has a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Business Administration from Western University.
She has over 30 years of work experience in both the public and private sectors, and is currently an instructor in UBC’s Geological Engineering Program.
Angel is currently working for Microsoft as a Software Engineer.
She enjoys organizing events to introduce technology to curious minds of all ages.
She also spoke at various technical conference including Grace Hopper Conference this year.
The researchers filmed young and old male and female flies in free flight, filming 100 flies at a time within a wire mesh cage.
They also took photographs and filmed outdoors so comparisons could be made between wing flash in direct sunlight and under a cloudy sky.
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