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7 unusual insect courting rituals

By: Matt Hickman on Feb. 11, 2011, 1:25 p.m.
close-up of green cricket

Photo: Ivan Walsh/Flickr

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Crickets: Size matters

Are crickets the randiest insects out there? Perhaps not, but the cold-blooded members of the family Gryllidae do lead quite hot-blooded love lives. Although male crickets use song — the famous cricket “chirp” — to seduce available mates and to keep competition at bay, there’s one physical attribute that seals the deal when it comes to success with she-crickets and the amount of offspring produced: a male’s size.

A recent cricket sex investigation carried out by a group of University of Exeter biologists armed with high-tech audiovisual equipment found that while female crickets do appreciate a mate with a beautiful singing voice, in the end it is strength and virility that really matters. In an Agence France-Presse article, researcher Rolando Rodriguez-Munoz said: “Song doesn't seem to matter much to the success of bigger and longer lived males, perhaps because females don't worry about what a male sounds like if he looks good in other ways.”

Additionally, researchers found that a cricket couple can mate up to 40 times, with the female slipping out to fool around with other eligible males before returning to her primary lover.