Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2004 Stephanie A. Cross. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Kathleen King Siwicki


The courtship behavior of Drosophila melanogaster males can be modified by experience with unreceptive mated females. In the courtship conditioning paradigm, males learn to reduce their courtship of mated females and subsequently display reduced courtship towards virgin females. Flies with altered pheromonal profiles were used to test the role of specific female pheromones in courtship conditioning. Following training with a mated female, males suppress their courtship of normal virgin females and males expressing female pheromones, but not towards pheromonally depleted virgins. These results suggest that female pheromones are necessary in courtship conditioning. We now report that another type of unproductive courtship experience can induce long-lasting changes in male courtship of virgin females; an experience courting a male fly that expresses certain female pheromones results in a significant suppression (relative to naïve males) of courtship towards virgins. This effect persists for at least 60 minutes when memory is tested with normal virgin females, but not with pheromonally depleted virgins, suggesting that female pheromones are also necessary to elicit this form of courtship suppression. The results indicate that male fruit flies can become less responsive to female aphrodisiac pheromones as a consequence of unproductive courtship experience with either mated females or pheromonally feminized males. Further studies will be required to identify the aversive stimuli responsible for these effects.