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Off the Wall: Pretty Fly for a Beard Guy

Bearded millennials and hipsters, your day is here! International Beard Day is September 1 this year. Some folks <he writes while staring at his reflection in a laptop monitor> are not blessed with the thickest lumberjacky of beards. This can result in what some have called, beard envy. Laugh, but it is for real. A study out of University of Queensland suggests human beardedness impacts how lucky a dude might be with the ladies: “Our findings suggest that beardedness may be attractive when judging long‐term relationships as a signal of intrasexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females.” That is science speak for “in a zombie apocalypse, dudes with heavy beards are most likely to take home the last gallon of milk after a rumble for food at the local grocery.” The suggestion is there something primordial in our genes that makes thickly-bearded dudes more appealing as long-term mates and providers.

If you suffer from beard envy, you can rest well knowing that at least you are not alone in the natural world. Meet Pogonortalis doclea (AKA boatman flies). These flies, native to Australia, first appeared in California around 1963. They are fairly common in suburban Southern California yards. Much like the archangel Michael, a boatman fly has a single pair of wings and likes to row boats ashore. At least that is what it looks like they are doing when they land on flowers and very slowly “row” their wings like oars through the air. The etymologists (word nerds), not entomologists (bug nerds), are immediately guessing correctly that these flies have sexy beards. Part of the scientific name, Pogonortalis, contains the root pogon which is “beard” in Greek. It seems that our wing-rowing aficionados have a bristly stubble on the sides of the face. This stubble is used in male on male combat in which these fly guys viciously rub cheek to cheek, jockeying to see whose stubble will prevail. To the victor? A better shot with the ladies. To the loser? The shame of knowing your beard is inadequate.

Inadequately bearded bros looking for love, fear not! Turns out that the same research out of University of Queensland found women looking for a fling or one-night stand preferred men with short to medium stubble. With your charming and caring personality, you can almost certainly parlay that one-night stand into a loving long-term relationship. Alternately, invest in a beard weave to fill that sucker out.

Posted by Vice President of Science and Conservation and Curator of Entomology Michael Wall, Ph.D. .

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