It’s an approach to pest control that’s so crazy it just might work: convince the females that they’re virgins. It would be useless as human birth control, of course, but the difference is that most female insects completely change their behavior after sex. For example, some mosquitoes suck blood. Others lose interest in males and start laying eggs.
What’s behind this dramatic change in behavior? Turns out it’s a peptide in the males’ seminal fluid. And now researchers in Vienna have found the females’ receptor for this peptide. They report online in Nature that fruitflies without the receptor lay many fewer eggs and continue to be interested in sex. In other words, they act [music: “Like a Virgin”]. So, back to pest control. Most female insects should have this sort of receptor, including the kinds that spread disease and devastate crops. If we could deactivate it on a large scale, instead of fighting egg-laying blood-suckers, we could live in peace with born-again virgins.