Bugs Much Gayer Than We Thought


Another blow to the idea that homosexuality is unnatural- researchers have found a surprising frequency of homosexual behavior among insects.

Salon reports,

Qiao Wang at Massey University in New Zealand and his coworkers discovered that the male beetles reacted similarly to males and females when they first encountered them on a plant stem by attempting to copulate. After the male mounts, he engages in a rather complicated and lengthy probing with his abdomen until he can touch a tiny segment of abdomen of the beetle underneath him, and it is only at that point that he can determine whether he has mounted a male or a female. Eventually he disengages from an individual found to be another male, but Wang and his colleagues suggest that “males may ‘waste’ a lot of time during their reproductive life.”

I suppose it makes sense that they’d be confused; it’s kind of hard to tell the difference between boy bugs and girl bugs by simply looking at them. Misidentifying the sex of a potential mate isn’t responsible for all gay bug sex, though.

Mistaken identity, however, doesn’t seem to be what’s going on in a tiny fly that lives on the water lilies of English streams. Males wander on the surface of the leaves, pouncing on anything that remotely resembles a female and a few things that do not, such as gray specks of decay on the plants, or flies of other species. After he succeeds in mounting a female, the pair embarks on an elaborate courtship ritual in which they rock back and forth for up to 15 minutes. An uncooperative female quickly puts a stop to this activity, in which case the male leaves without bothering her further. Sometimes, however, a male mounts another male, and in these cases the mounted individual vigorously resists the overtures while the mounting male clings to his back as if to a tiny bucking bronco.

Still other insects engage in homosexual behavior due to a mutation in their brains that causes them to be attracted to members of the same sex. And some species of male bugs will mate with other male bugs and then go on to mate with a female bug shortly thereafter. If those bugs were humans, they’d probably be uber conservative Republicans or megachurch pastors.

The Surprisingly Gay World of Insect Sex [Salon]

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