When it comes to humans, harassment is considered a serious issue that needs to be addressed. While the manner in which this issue is best addressed is a matter of debate, insects, of course, do not discuss how socially undesirable actions should be best discouraged. Instead, insects are rather brutal when it comes to self defense, and this is certainly true when it comes to how females respond to unwanted advancements from males looking to mate. We all know that there exists numerous insect and spider species where females will not hesitate to eat males that they do not find appealing as mates. In some cases, female spiders will eat their male suitors even after copulation. When it comes to insects and spiders, females reign supreme, as their body size is almost always significantly larger than males. This is also true with most bee species. In fact, the males of many bee species do not even possess stingers for their own defense, unlike females. Considering that females possess larger bodies than males in most insect species, it may be hard to imagine females struggling to fight off the sexual advancements of males. However, one recent study has pointed out that female cockroaches will sometimes huddle together in order to fight off fertile males looking to mate.
A researcher, Christine Stanley, working for the University of Chester in England has recently conducted a study that explored the relationship between male and female pacific beetle cockroaches. During the study, Stanley placed both male and female cockroaches together within a small container. After a short time, the females could be seen huddling together in groups in order to keep male roaches at bay. According to Stanley, the females created a “better” environment by “excluding” the males. The females were able to fend off the males because their bodies are larger, making them dominant over males. However, Stanley’s conclusions have been criticized by other entomologists. According to Coby Schal, an entomology professor at North Carolina State University, the huddling behavior demonstrated by the female roaches did not conclusively indicate that the females were not interested in mating with males, as the female’s relatively large bodies allow them to fight off unwanted males individually, and with little effort. Furthermore, the size difference between the sexes is enough to explain why the relatively small males were kicked out. According to Stanley, it is not uncommon for females to avoid mating, as they carry excess sperm that is collected from one single mating. Since this sperm is used for insemination later on, females often have to fight off males that continue to seek females for mating.
Do you believe that the huddling behavior demonstrated by female beetles indicates their lack of interest in males looking to mate?