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Male flies are better at mating after fighting off a robotic rival

Lab-reared insects sometimes struggle to compete for mates with wild males, but an encounter with a robotic replica seems to improve their performance

By Gary Hartley

17 June 2023

A Mediterranean fruit fly (bottom) meeting a robot-controlled, 3D-printed replica

Donato Romano

Male fruit flies reared in a lab are more successful at mating after an encounter with a robotic dummy designed to look like a rival male. The finding could boost efforts to control populations of the flies, which are a major crop pest.

The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) is one of the most destructive fruit pests in the world, found on every continent except Antarctica. There have been various attempts to rein it in by releasing large numbers of …

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