Rough in Love

The African fruit fly is rough in love,

The male uses his organ like a sword;

Its rough edges will cut as it does shove

Into the partner he chooses to board.

Some females have evolved a way to skirt

These unromantic gestures from their kin;

By cross-dressing as males they can avert

The injuries from unwanted lovin’.

The males are darker than their counterparts,

So some females evolved to be more tanned.

And whilst these specimens clearly have smarts,

It only works if others fill demand.

And so some lighter females still exist,

As evolution is a twisted kiss.


A fruit fly looking (or not) for love (Photo Credit: Martin Cooper).
A fruit fly looking (or not) for love (Photo Credit: Martin Cooper).
This is a Shakespearian Sonnet based on this piece of research, which investigates how female fruit flies have evolved to camouflage themselves as males, so that they are not over engaged in sexual intercourse with their male counterparts, whose sexual organs are so rough that it causes injuries. However, this camouflage only works providing that there are enough non-camouflaged females for the male population.

An audio version of this poem can be heard here.

Did you know that fruit flies are actively used in biological research and that such research is so important that already 5 Nobel Prizes were awarded for it? If you want to know more, click here

2 thoughts on “Rough in Love”

  1. The other researchers and I really like this poem. Artful, entertaining, and scientifically accurate! I added a mention and link to our lab site.

    • Thanks John,

      That is very kind. “Artful, entertaining and scientifically accurate” is a description I shall be using (I hope that’s ok) 🙂

      Thanks also for the exciting research, as without that the poem would not have been possible.


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