Starving female praying mantises use pheromones to fool males into risking their lives for sex, a new study finds
The practice of biting the male’s head off during sex has earned the female praying mantis the reputation of a femmes fatale but the true motive for such sexual cannibalism has remained in question.
A new study supports the female of the species’ deadly temptress tag by showing that males are more attracted to starving females, but they have to be tricked into it.
The end result is that the males are cheated in two ways: they are exposed to the very high risk of being eaten and there is little or no chance of them producing offspring with the low egg-producing females.
Even more surprisingly, research found that the hungriest females attracted more males than well-fed females, which the author suggests is achieved by the more desperate females releasing higher levels of pheromones (long-distance chemical signals).
Previously studies have suggested that sexual dishonesty is not a factor among praying mantises, with males shown to be completely disinterested in females in poor physical condition or with low fertility levels.
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