Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006)


Open Access Presidential Scholars Thesis

First Advisor

Robert Seager


Drosophilidae--Eggs; Drosophilidae--Food;


Food preference and choice of oviposition (egg laying) site are critical factors for insects such as Drosophila and affect many aspects of their lives (Jennings and Seager, 1982). Different species of Drosophila fill various niches by making use of a variety of foods, which also affects their seasonal abundances (Shorrocks, 1983). The ability of Drosophila to find the location of a certain food type for egg laying and thus for their larvae affects the survival of their species. Breeding sites and substrates of the flies are chosen on the basis of the food available for the larvae of each species.

Beagon and Shorrocks (1978) showed that Drosophila preferred food sources with certain types of yeast that are unique in the wild. Carson and Heed (1983) found that almost any fruit serves well as bait for Drosophila, especially citrus fruits and apples. Shorrocks (1982) showed that Drosophila are attracted to a wide range of baits such as malt, artificially decayed plant matter, sap fluxes, and rotting vegetables. It was found that when D. melanogaster and D. simulans were captured on various baits, marked with florescent light, and released they showed statistically significant levels (p < 0.05) of returning to the same bait on which they were originally caught (Turelli et al., 1984). Food choice is ultimately based on the nutrients and carbohydrates found within them because the Drosophila are unable to make all the necessary nutrients they need to survive (Carson and Heed, 1983).

Bobinet (unpublished data) found that D. robusta preferred banana bait in the wild at a statistically significant level (p < 0.05), while D. tripunctata preferred mushroom bait in the wild at a statistically significant level (p < 0.05). These data were supported by further trappings done in Cedar Falls, Iowa (Seager et al., unpublished).

The purpose of the following study was done to create a workable laboratory apparatus that replicated the bait preference behavior found in the wild. An apparatus which models the wild would allow for the dissection of the Drosophila behavior. Drosophila robusta and D. tripunctata were chosen because of their distinct bait preference behavior. D. robust a had been caught entirely (100%) on banana bait and D. tripunctata had been caught primarily on mushroom bait (80%). We tested whether the apparatus we built replicated this behavior.

Date of Award



Department of Biology

Presidential Scholar Designation

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation Presidential Scholar

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (8 pages)

Date Digital



©1997 - Jeffrey John Doolittle





File Format


Included in

Biology Commons