Bug Valentines!

Written by Nancy Miorelli

I love Valentine’s Day and its something that I like to share with my friends. Last year I started drawing “Insect Valentines” for my friends at work,  where I’d couple insect biology and art. I had so much fun I drew another batch this year!

1) Wheel Position

While Dragonflies do this behavior too, Damselflies make a heart shape when they mate. The male grabs the female by her neck and drags her around as a form of mate guarding. She curls her abdomen up to his thorax, and takes his sperm from his secondary sex organ.

Mating Wheel PC: Nancy Miorelli

Mating Wheel
PC: Nancy Miorelli

2) Misplaced Attraction

Some orchids emit the chemical perfume of female bees. The males, thinking the flower is a female bee, mate with it and inadvertently pollinate it.

Orchid and the associated Orchid Bee PC: Nancy Miorelli

Orchid and the associated Orchid Bee
PC: Nancy Miorelli

3) Quickies

Mayflies have mass emergences. That day they all “hatch” as an adult, mate, lay eggs, then die. They don’t even have mouthparts to eat!

Ephemeroptera - Living for a Day PC: Nancy Miorelli

Mayfly – Ephemeroptera means “Short lived Wings” 
PC: Nancy Miorelli

4) Butt Out

Lots of scarab beetles have prominent horns on their head. The males shove each other around in a claim for territory and females. Sometimes less dominant males sneak past the warring dominant males and mate with the females.

Hercules Beetle (Dynastes hercules) PC: Nancy Miorelli

Hercules Beetle (Dynastes hercules)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

5) Size Matters

Female beetles will also use horns to judge fitness.

Size Matters

Rainbow Scarab Beetle (Phanaeus vindex)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

6) Blind Dates

Tiger Beetles (Carabidae: Cicindelinae) run so quickly that they actually can’t see where they’re going! They have to use their antennae and often stop to reassess the situation.

Always on the Run PC: Nancy Miorelli

Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle  (Cicindela sexguttata)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

7) Gentle Breeze

This species of Tiger Beetle larva uses wind to push it along the beach. When threatened, it’ll jump out of its burrow and careen down the beach.

They roll along the beach PC: Nancy Miorelli

Eastern Beach Tiger Beetle (Cicindela dorsalis media or Habroscelimorpha dorsalis media depending on who you ask)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

8)  Let Me Sing For You

While most people think of crickets, grasshoppers and katydids also sing but in a raspier tone.

Handsome Meadow Katydid  PC: Nancy Miorelli

Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

 9) Sweet Perfume

Moths follow plumes of pheromones released by the females for miles until they finally find her and mate. This may or may not have been inspired by a certain Maroon 5 song.

Luna Moths (Actias luna) PC: Nancy Miorelli

Luna Moths (Actias luna)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

10) Free Dinner

Mantises don’t eat their mates very often. However, if female Peacock Jumping Spiders are unimpressed by the male’s dance moves, she will try and eat him.

Peacock Jumping Spider (Maratus volans) PC: Nancy Miorelli

Peacock Jumping Spider (Maratus volans)
PC: Nancy Miorelli

Hope you guys liked my bought of random insect (and token arachnid) love this Valentine’s Day!

About SciBugs

Entomologist, Science Communicator, and Crafter Twitter: @SciBugs
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