Aussie bug could be ultimate chauvinist
Wed Jul 23, 1:03 PM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - As life goes, it doesn't get much better than for male Zeus bugs.
The tiny water bugs that are common along Australia's east coast have an easy life. Their female partners provide free food, transport and unlimited sex whenever they want it.
"All the advantages in this relationship seem to fall to the male with no obvious advantage for the female, yet the female Zeus bug seems a willing partner in this one-sided affair," Dr Mark Elgar, of the University of Melbourne in Australia, said on Wednesday.
Elgar and his colleagues, who studied the unusual creatures, admit to being baffled by their behaviour, which defies the norm in animals and insects.
The male Zeus bug is half the size of the female and hitches a piggy back ride on the female which also feeds him.
"The male can ride the female, feeding and mating for up to a week," said Elgar, who reported his findings in the science journal Nature.
Why the female puts up with feeding and carrying the male around is a mystery but Elgar and his colleagues suspect it is less tiring to put up with one male partner than several.
"A constant stream of suitors wanting to participate in a polygamous free-for-all could possibly lead to greater harassment, leading to the female expending more energy and placing herself at greater risk of harm than if she doted on just one male," Elgar said in a statement.
The male Zeus bug simply can't lose. He not only gets a free ride but is assured that his sperm, and not his rival's, is used to create the next generation.
The next to the last paragraph made me spit Dr. Pepper out my nose onto the keyboard!! I know a lot of human Zeus's!!
Jul 23, '03
just more proof that a man can't survive without a woman
Jul 23, '03
I know an awful lot of Aussie men who have modelled thier life on this little bug!!