First love ruins him for all others

February 09, 2005

Hamilton, ON. Feb. 9, 2005 - Forget a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. When it comes to attracting a mate, the male sagebrush cricket brings a special nuptial gift to his partner.

During copulation, these insect Romeos offer their Juliets a peculiar food gift: females chew off the ends of the males' fleshy hind wings and ingest fluid that is seeping from the wounds they inflict.

However, once males have endured this "love bite," their chances of finding another partner are slim because they lack the energy to aggressively pursue other mates. It's a classic case of sexual exhaustion. Why do the males permit females to wreak such damage on them during mating?

McMaster University psychologist Andrew Clark, who studied the crickets in co-operation with researchers from Illinois State University, says, "The primary benefit to males appears to be that wing feeding keeps the female occupied during the time it takes the male to transfer the sperm."
-end-
This research, published in Behavioral Ecology, was supported by funds from the National Science Foundation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

McMaster University, named Canada's Research University of the Year by Research InfoSource, has world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 20,000 and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries.

Additional Contact Information:
Andrew Clark
Department of Psychology
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 24867
clarkap@mcmaster.ca

McMaster University

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