Thursday, 6 December 2012

The joy of bug sex: The Carnal Gymnastics of Invertebrates


Male dragonfly first approaches the female from behind, then grabs hold of her thorax with his legs, pinning her in situ. Then, thrusting his abdomen towards her he uses a pair of cerci (anal appendages) to get a hold on the female's neck. The male then charges his penis-like member with sperm (it's stored in another organ).
What follows, has become know as the "wheel" formation -- since the male's appendage is near his thorax and the female's genitalia is at the tip of her abdomen, the latter must bend forward. The dragonflies can lock together like this even while flying. 


Damselflies copulate in a manner very similar to the dragonfly, though they do not lock together. They do, however, display the "wheel" formation very nicely. Like the dragonfly this often ends up looking a lot like a heart-shaped pose for the cameras.


4/9 Like butterflies, male fireflies bribe the female with a "spermatophore" -- a package of sperm and nutrients. This is in addition to blinking their "lights" at the female. The female blinks back if she's interested and, according to a 2012 study, she usually goes for the firefly with the bigger gift package. In this image, it seems a second suitor thought the flash.

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