The bottles –- stubbies as they are known in Australia, Canada and a few other countries –- resemble a “super female” jewel beetle. Male beetles are so captivated by the bottles that they will gird their loins and go through the expected motions, refusing to leave until they fry to death, are consumed by hungry ants, or are physically removed by researchers.
The male beetles are very particular about the bottles. Beer cans or wine bottles do nothing for them. It’s all about the shape, color and texture and has nothing to do with booze. As the researchers wrote in their findings, “Not only do western Australians never dispose of a beer bottle with beer still in it, but many of the bottles had sand and detritus accumulated over many months.”
While the researchers and Ig Nobel judges obviously see the humor in all of this, there’s a serious message too, according to Gwynne. The findings demonstrate how our garbage not only litters landscapes but can also directly affect the populations of other species.
And second, Gwynne points out that the research supports a theory of sexual selection: that males of certain species, in their eagerness to mate, are often the ones making mating mistakes