The Curious Do's and Don'ts of Insect Dating Behavior

Bugs tap, dance and buzz to attract their mates—and some get eaten

Soldier beetles mate on a bed of flowers. (Brian Hathcock / Flickr)

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2) Termighty Love
King and queen termites are the only ones in a colony that reproduce, but, as Rebeccah Waterworth, an entomology graduate student at the University of California Riverside, says, “the pair is monogamous and mates for life.” Some queens can live for a decade, so they even have a shot at a tenth anniversary. Tradition calls for tin or aluminum gifts, but perhaps they’d prefer wood?

1) Love Bites
Female spiders, which tend to be bigger than males, are notorious for snacking on their partners, which is why male black widows sometimes wrap up their mates up in silk beforehand. (Occasionally, Lemann says, a strapping female will “bust out of the silk and grab her mate and eat him” anyway.) But in the Australian black widow’s mating ritual, “post-copulatory suicide” is routine. The male “does a sort of somersault into her fangs,” Lemann says; his body nourishes her as she makes their eggs. Sweet.

About Abigail Tucker

A frequent contributor to Smithsonian, Abigail Tucker is writing a book about the house cat.

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