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7 unusual insect courting rituals

By: Matt Hickman on Feb. 11, 2011, 1:25 p.m.
black and red soapberry bug on green leaf

Photo: jwinfred/Flickr

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Soapberry bugs: Stick around

While a male’s spider sex is short, sweet and fatal, the male soapberry bug likes to stick around with his lady long past his welcome. And she won’t devour him when all is said and done.

Female soapberry bugs are scarce in many climates, so as a result, competitive males will prolong intercourse for as long as 24 hours so that no jealous males get a piece of the action. During this time, the male soapberry bug’s genitals act as a “plug” to prevent any other bachelors from swooping in for a turn. The male will let up only to allow the female to lay her eggs. Sometimes the male will continue to practice mate guarding even after the female has perished during copulation. Soapberry bugs are one species that really didn’t get the memo: You’ve got to give your new lover a bit of space.