Official! Size Really Does Matter...

February 9, 2006

Buy your female Valentine a priceless diamond ring and she will be faithful forever… but any cheap gift will lose her attention. Such comic-book logic has yet to be proven among humans, but it’s certainly the case in the insect world as University of Derby scientists have been exploring the erm… ‘bed-hopping habits’ of crickets!

Male crickets naturally manufacture a ‘courtship gift’ from their abdomens made of a gelatine-like substance.

Now Derby’s scientists have discovered a critical link – the bigger the size of the contents of the gift the less promiscuous his chosen female will be!

During intercourse, when the female climbs on top for mating, the male affixes the bag to a hook on her body next to her reproductive system.

After mating, the female cannot resist the gelatine and proceeds to eat the gelatine in the gift while sperm enters her reproductive system.

Having analysed the mating patterns of 18 different species of crickets, the scientists discovered the same ‘copulating correlation’ in all the crickets.

The biggest gift will mean a female cricket has just one male mate. But the smaller the gift and the female could literally ‘bed-hop’ with up to 45 partners in her short three-month life.

Dr Karim Vahed, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, said: “It has been known for a long time that males naturally produce these jelly-like gifts which are passed to the female during intercourse.

“What we have done is observe the activities of crickets after mating and the size of the gift determines how promiscuous a female will be. A male Alpine Bush Cricket produces a meagre amount, a gift weighing perhaps just two per cent of its body weight.

“Tests showed these females had up to 45 partners in their lifetimes.

“However, the Spanish Saddle-Backed Bush Cricket generates a gift equivalent to almost a third of its body weight. The female of this species had just one partner.

“In the insect world, females are highly promiscuous. Our tests suggest that in order for guaranteed procreation, the male cricket may craftily also be generating a hormonal chemical into the gifts alongside the sperm and gelatine.

“The bigger the gift, the more chemical may be involved, which manipulates the female’s behaviour and puts her off finding other partners.”

Source: University of Derby

Explore further: Edible love gifts may influence female behavior, suggests cricket study

Related Stories

Sex is thirst-quenching for female beetles

August 28, 2007

Female beetles mate to quench their thirst according to new research by a University of Exeter biologist. The males of some insect species, including certain types of beetles, moths and crickets, produce unusually large ejaculates, ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists find ancient necropolis in Egypt

February 24, 2018

Egypt's Antiquities Ministry announced on Saturday the discovery of an ancient necropolis near the Nile Valley city of Minya, south of Cairo, the latest discovery in an area known to house ancient catacombs from the Pharaonic ...

AI and 5G in focus at top mobile fair

February 24, 2018

Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers with better cameras and bigger screens at the world's biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain after a year of flat smartphone sales.

Walking crystals may lead to new field of crystal robotics

February 23, 2018

Researchers have demonstrated that tiny micrometer-sized crystals—just barely visible to the human eye—can "walk" inchworm-style across the slide of a microscope. Other crystals are capable of different modes of locomotion ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.