Soapberry Bugs And Honey Bees Show Us How Strange Insect Courtships Can Be
There are very few insect species that do not exhibit bizarre and often shocking mating rituals. Since insect life is diverse and highly evolved, there exists millions of different ways in which insects will approach a member of the opposite sex for mating purposes. For many insect species, especially males, mating can be downright dangerous. However, the process of mating can be seemingly horrific for many female insect species as well. From the little-known soapberry bug to the common honey bee, the process of mating and producing offspring can leave you scratching your head with disbelief.
Some insect species have many more males than females, and vice versa. This makes it difficult to track down a mate. Among soapberry bugs, females are hard to come by as they are not nearly as numerous as males. Once male soapberry bugs luck out and locate a female, they become determined to pass on their genes. After all, a male soapberry bug may never again find a chance to mate. When soapberry bugs mate, they appear as twins conjoined at the rear, and the males do not let go until they are sure that their genes will be passed on. This means that male soapberry bugs continue to adhere to females for several days; some observations have counted eleven full days of being physically joined together. The males refuse to withdraw from the females in fear that another male will mate with the female. The male is not about to let another male rob it of its chance at producing offspring. The male genitalia basically acts like a plug preventing the female from becoming inseminated by another male. The males may withdraw their genitalia for a short time, but they are always right next to their female mates.
Similar to soapberry bugs, honey bee males are not hard to find. In fact, during mating flights, queen bees will mate with an average of twelve different males. The males will take turns mating with the queen. The queen then stores all of the male sperm for the rest of her life, which she gradually uses to fertilize her eggs. Unfortunately for the males, when the queen is prepared to fly back to its colony, the males barbed genitalia will be ripped from its body by the queen. This massive damage results in the death of the male. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that being a male honey bee is easy.
Do you know of any insect species that maintain monogamous relationships?