Love in the Wacky World of Bugs
Below are examples of what passes for romance in the world of bed bugs, termites, kissing bugs and fire ants:
- Bed Bugs: These pests are infamous for their ability to reproduce rapidly, creating major infestations in short periods of time. However, it is not their ability to quickly multiply that puts them on our list for strange mating rituals; instead it’s how they reproduce that makes people cringe. Bed bugs practice a mating behavior known as “traumatic insemination” where the male pierces the abdomen of the female to directly inseminate her body cavity. Male bed bugs often attempt to mate with other males, killing them in the process.
- Termites: Female termites release “mating pheromones” that act as a perfume to entice male termites. Once the males locate the female termites, they will break off their wings, symbolizing that they are a couple.
- Kissing Bugs: Despite their name, there’s nothing romantic about these bugs! Kissing bugs have a tendency to bite the faces and lips of humans while they sleep, not only causing welts and allergic reactions, but they are also capable of spreading the potentially fatal Chagas disease. They frequently defecate on or near the bite wound, allowing the parasite that spreads Chagas to enter the person’s blood stream. This blood meal is necessary for male kissing bugs to mate and for female kissing bugs to lay eggs.
- Fire Ants: In fire ant colonies, the queen ant is in charge of laying eggs and can even control how many male and female eggs she lays. The queen can live for up to seven years and produce more than 1,000 eggs each day. Male ants, called drones, are not so fortunate. Their only role in the colony is to mate with the queen and then die soon after doing so.