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7 unusual insect courting rituals

By: Matt Hickman on Feb. 11, 2011, 1:25 p.m.
bedbug on hand

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Bedbugs: Rough sex

The thought of sharing your space with bedbugs is unpleasant enough. The thought of how these pesky parasitic insects get it on is a whole other matter. Bedbugs mate through a brutal process called traumatic insemination that involves the male impaling the female’s abdomen with a sword-like hypodermic penis and ejaculating directly into the female’s body cavity. Lovely.

You’d think being pierced by sword genitalia would be enough to kill the female bedbug, but, alas, females have developed a special reproductive organ called the spermalege, a spongy “target” of sorts that minimizes the damaging effects of traumatic insemination. Additionally, male bugs have developed chemoreceptors on their penises that allow them to sense if their mate has been “getting around,” so to speak. If a male detects that the female has recently mated, he’ll ejaculate less fluid during the puncturing process. Male bed bugs are also known to inadvertently stab other male bed bugs.