Courtship In Insects
Insect courtship is ritualistic and has evolved over time. Male balloon flies of the family Empididae spin oval balloons of silk. Then they fly in a swarm, carrying their courtship objects aloft. Females approach the swarm and select their mates. As a female pairs off with a male, she accepts his balloon. In some species of balloon flies, the male brings the female a dead insect to eat during copulation. This may prevent her from eating him. In other species, the male carries a dead insect inside a silk balloon. Apparently, in the course of evolution, the suitor's gift-giving began with "candy," then a "box of candy," and finally just the empty "box." Other courtship strategies in insects include female moths that release a scent signal (or pheromone) that males of the same species recognize. When a male detects the signal, he flies upstream to the female. In queen butterflies, courtship is complex and requires steps that must occur in the proper order. First, the female flaps her wings and draws the male's attention and pursues her. As he hovers nearby his hairpencils (brushlike organs) release a pheromone. Then the receptive female lands on a nearby plant. Next, the male brushes his hairpencils on her antennae. She responds by closing her wings. This signals the male to land on her and begin mating. In other courtship behavior, male crickets rub their forewings together and produce a pulsed courtship song. In fireflies, the male's flashing light and the female's flashing answer is another type of courtship behavior. In fireflies, both sexes respond to a specific set of intervals between flashes.