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First love ruins him for all others

Hamilton, ON. Feb. 9, 2005 Forget a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. When it comes to attracting a mate, the male sagebrush cricket brings a special nuptial gift to his partner.

During copulation, these insect Romeos offer their Juliets a peculiar food gift: females chew off the ends of the males' fleshy hind wings and ingest fluid that is seeping from the wounds they inflict.

However, once males have endured this "love bite," their chances of finding another partner are slim because they lack the energy to aggressively pursue other mates. It's a classic case of sexual exhaustion. Why do the males permit females to wreak such damage on them during mating?

McMaster University psychologist Andrew Clark, who studied the crickets in co-operation with researchers from Illinois State University, says, "The primary benefit to males appears to be that wing feeding keeps the female occupied during the time it takes the male to transfer the sperm."


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Contact: Julia Thomson
thomsoj@mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 x22869
McMaster University
9-Feb-2005


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