Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version


Document Type



Experimental Gerontology 37 (2002), pp. 507–512


© 2002 Elsevier Science, Inc. Used by permission


Mortality rates were measured over the lifetime of 65,000 female Mediterranean fruit flies, Ceratitis capitata, maintained in either all-female (virgin) cages or cages with equal initial numbers of males, to determine the effect of sexual activity and mating on the mortality trajectory of females at older ages. Although a greater fraction of females maintained in all-female (virgin) cages survived to older ages, the life expectancy of the surviving virgins was less than the life expectancy of surviving non-virgins at older ages. This was due to a mortality crossover where virgin flies experience lower mor-tality than mated flies from eclosion to Day 20 but higher mortality thereafter. These results suggest that there are two consequences of mating—a short-term mortality increase (cost) and a longer term mortality decrease (benefit).