There has been debate over the mechanisms that control the copy number of transposable elements in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster. Target sites in D. melanogaster populations are occupied at low frequencies, suggesting that there is some form of selection acting against transposable elements. Three main theories have been proposed to explain how selection acts against transposable elements: insertions of a copy of a transposable element are selected against; chromosomal rearrangements caused by ectopic exchange between element copies are selected against; or the process of transposition itself is selected against. The three theories give different predictions for the pattern of transposable element insertions in the chromosomes of D. melanogaster. We analysed the abundance of six LTR (long terminal repeat) retrotransposons on the X and fourth chromosomes of multiple strains of D. melanogaster, which we compare with the predictions of each theory. The data suggest that no one theory can account for the insertion patterns of all six retrotransposons. Comparing our results with earlier work using these transposable element families, we find a significant correlation between studies in the particular model of copy number regulation supported by the proportion of elements on the X for the different transposable element families. This suggests that different retrotransposon families are regulated by different mechanisms.