The occurrence of active, or autonomous, mariner elements was investigated by crossing white-peach mutant Drosophila simulans females with wild-type males from various geographic origins. From a total of 194 experimental crosses only 17 failed to produce progeny with eye mosaicism (MOS, i.e. pigmented spots in otherwise white-peach eyes). Therefore, active mariner elements inducing somatic excision of the copy inserted at the white locus are abundant in all populations sampled. In the experimental crosses the frequency of mosaic offspring ranged from 0 to 100%, showing that the phenotypic expression is highly variable. The MOS phenotype, measured by the number of spots on the eyes, is quite variable within the progeny of single crosses. Although a difference was observed in the average MOS score (percentage of mosaic flies) between northern and southern populations of France, there was no indication of long range variation between geographic populations. Neither was there a systematic difference between recently collected populations and samples kept several years as isofernale lines.