Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

Mating for Life Part 3: Monogamy in Insects

on July 28, 2014

We’ve seen in part 1 (birds) and part 2 (mammals) of this series that there is a lot of variation in monogamy in the animal kingdom. It is worth mentioning one more group of animals before we carry on.

  • Do insects mate for life?

In the invertebrate world, there is a countless variety of mating techniques, but even amidst this variety there are some examples of monogamy and mating for life. Termites (infraorder: Isoptera) are colonial animals where a single queen produces all the offspring that then grow up to service the collective. A termite queen constantly produces offspring, most of which become workers and soldiers that serve the colony, but each year, the queen will produce a generation of breeding individuals. These ‘breeders’, called alates, are males and females with wings that fly away from the home colony to found their own. Females breed and then head underground where they will stay for the rest of their lives producing young. In many species of termite, a queen will keep a single male at her side, a king, who will mate with her throughout her life and he will be her sole partner and father to the entire colony.

Termites surrounding a queen

A termite queen is a huge, egg producing machine (she is the blob in the middle of this picture); all termites in her colony are her offspring but sometimes she is accompanied by a king for her entire life. Photo Credits.

Many species of insect, such as mosquitoes (family: Culicidae) are monogamous because they do not live long enough to be anything else! They hatch from their eggs as larva and spend most of their lives in a larval form. Eventually, the larvae transform into their adult form and emerge, they will then seek to find a single mate with whom they will reproduce and then die. The adult stage of many insects’ lives are dedicated to the sole purpose of producing a single batch of eggs. You could argue whether this counts as monogamous or is just the force of circumstance.

Mosquito

Mosquitos are monogamous mostly because they die not long after they mate for the first time! Photo Credits.

The invertebrates make up the majority of animals on Earth and there is of course a lot of variation within their behaviours, however, monogamy and mating for life is very much uncommon.

In the next post, we will look more at the advantages of monogamy and faithfulness to a mating partner and some explanations as to why some animals have adopted this mating technique.

Much love,

-Nick

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3 responses to “Mating for Life Part 3: Monogamy in Insects

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