Male crickets prioritize the life of their female partners ahead of their own, even though it means a dramatic rise for the former in the risk of being eaten, research published on Thursday said.
In perhaps the insect equivalent of holding the door open, infrared video pictures of a wild population of field crickets (Gryllus campestris) in Spain showed all the males giving their female partners priority access to the safety of a burrow.
Rolando Rodriguez-Munoz of the University of Exeter in England said the study showed that chivalrous behavior is not exclusively linked to humans, education or intelligence.
“We showed that even males of small insects, which we would not define as intelligent or affective, can be ‘chivalrous’ or protective with their partners,” he added.
The research was published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.
Most previous studies of cricket mating behavior had been conducted in the laboratory.
The results are contrary to the usual interpretation of male guarding behavior as an attempt to manipulate females and prevent them from mating with rivals, the researchers said.
However, it was shown that male crickets in the study were rewarded for their risky behavior, as their extended stays with females won them more offspring.
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