Special Sub-Topic: Mating Tactics of Creepy Crawlies
|Love isn't always easy. Female water striders have developed spikes on their backs to dislodge males attempting to mate with them. If you were a male water strider, what would you have to overcome this?|
Claspers to hold onto the female. Different species of water strider females have different sized spikes, basically the larger the male's "claspers", the larger the female's spikes.
|In many species males who mate with a female will block her genital opening with a hard plug, therefore preventing her from mating with another male. If you were a bed bug this would not be a problem. How does the male bed bug ensure he passes on his genes?|
Stabbing the female's body and injecting sperm. Being stabbed by the male does not endanger the female's life, she has adapted so the sperm will work its way through her body to be stored and then used to fertilise her eggs. In some species, the male will actually inject other males who then pass on their genes for them.
|It can be tiring chasing the girls around, sometimes you just want them to come to you. The red velvet mite male releases his sperm onto twigs. He then needs to entice a female to lay her eggs. If you were a red velvet mite how would you tempt a female to do this?|
Lay a silk trail to for her to follow. This is easier said than done, a poorly made trail will not attract any mates as the female will only leave her eggs for a male thst she finds artistically pleasing. Also, if another male finds this trail, he will destroy the original's sperm and leave his own.
|Incest is not unheard of in the insect world. If you were a straw itch mite male, who would you mate with?|
Your sister. The straw itch mite gives birth to up to 300 young at a time, and the males will immediately mate with their sisters after birth. When your life span is only 1 week, there is little time to waste with courting!
|Females can be fussy when it comes to choosing who to share their genes with. The female of many insects have a storage organ to keep sperm to be used as needed. If you were a male Drosophila bifurca (a species of fruit fly) you would want to take up as much of this space as possible. How would you accomplish this?|
By producing extra long sperm. Male fruit flies produce the longest sperm known to man, being up to 6cm in length, this is over 1000 times longer than a human sperm. In order to accomplish this, his testes make up 11% of his body mass.
|There is no doubt about it, passing on your genes can be a risky business. If you were a male red back spider what particular hazard would make you think twice before approaching a female?|
She might eat you. Male red back spiders actually offer themselves up to the female to eat them. In about 65% of red back spider matings the male is consumed by the female. Males that are not eaten die shortly afterwards anyway, so this is not much of a deterrent.
|Females like to be courted, and providing your chosen lady with a meal could give you an advantage. The female sagebrush cricket has unusual cravings. If you were a male sagebrush cricket which of these attributes would give you the best chance of meeting her desires?|
Being a virgin. Male sagebrush crickets have evolved an extra pair of wings for females to "nibble" on whilst mating. The females then proceed to drink the blood from these wounds. This does not kill the males, but they do lose a portion of their wings with each mating, making them less attractive to other females.
|In the insect world, females are not always just looking for a good personality. If you were a male stalk-eyed fly, what attribute would attract the largest number of females to you?|
Having eyes set further apart than you body is long. There really is no accounting for taste. The males have much longer eye-stalks than the females, and this is thought to have evolved due to female mating preference.
|Once you have found that special partner, you can't always trust her to stay true. If you were a male dragonfly, how would you protect your partner from other males?|
Hold onto her until she deposits her eggs. The last male dragonfly to mate with a female before she lays her eggs has the greatest chance of fathering her offspring. Male dragonflies attempt to hold onto a female behind the back of her head until she has laid her eggs, and will then fly off to find another partner.
|Sometimes fidelity wins. If you were a male burying beetle, what would keep your partner true to you?|
You will both raise your children together. A rare thing in the world of bugs, young burying beetles are not able to care for themselves from birth and take several days to mature. If the female does die, the male will take on all the child-rearing duties.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction