Bee My Valentine Love Bugs and other Amorous Wildlife Tuesday February 11, 2014
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Love Bugs and other Amorous Wildlife

♪♫♪ Love is in the air … Let me tell you about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees … ♫♪  February is the month of love. With Valentines Day just around the corner, what better time to celebrate the love life of insects although one might ask What’s love got to do with it? We wont discuss bees because well . . . drones (male bees) are a bit unlucky in love. After the nuptial flight they end up falling to their . . . instead, lets look at a few insects and other wildlife that actually court each other and even mate for life! Red-shouldered bugs mating

What happens when two red-shouldered bugs mate? Little red baby bugs!

The Red-shoulder Bug Mating Ritual

Watching red-shouldered bugs mate is quite amusing. They can be seen on sidewalks during spring and summer leading one another around. Female red-shouldered bugs are larger than males and have shorter wings. When mating, the two connect their rear ends and crawl forwards and backwards, taking turns. Pregnant females deposit their eggs, usually nearby under a shrub or tree. The nymphs are completely red in color when they hatch, and then they go through various stages over the summer until they reach adulthood at which time they gain their blue-black wings.

How to Attract a Female Lizard

Western Fence Lizard

Western Fence Lizard, A.K.A. Blue-belly

First of all, you need a blue belly. Then, you need to be able to show your belly by raising your head up high while doing push-ups. This attracts the female western fence lizard . . . a long tail helps as well. Have you ever seen a lizard doing push-ups? This is either a display of territorial rights or very likely, a lady lizard is nearby and he is showing off his blue belly for her. If you happen to be a lizard, whatever you do, try not to lose your tail because tails really dont grow back all the way. A female western fence lizard will have nothing to do with you if you have no tail.

Mating Mud Daubers

Mating Mud Daubers

Mud daubers are beneficial wasps that hunt down spiders to feed to their young.

Male mud daubers are much luckier than some insects, since they dont die right after mating (like those poor drone bees). Maybe its because mud dauber males are a bit more helpful on the home front, doing their share around the home, I mean nest (just a tip from the male mud dauber). As the female mud dauber flies to and fro from various mud puddles, carrying mud in her mouth to create a nest, the male mud dauber stands guard to make sure that no other types of wasps try to lay their eggs in the nest. The male mud dauber provides protection until she completes construction of the mud nest. The female then lays her eggs, hunts spiders to provision the nest with food for when her baby wasps hatch, then she seals up the nest (yes, it appears she does all the work but I suppose fighting off enemies can be work too). Neither one care to parent; they both fly away until they decide to mate again . . . however, not necessarily with each other.

In the Mourning, in the Evening, These Doves are Monogamous

Pair of Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are monogamous, forming strong bonds for life.

Mourning Doves mate quite often during mating season, and only with each other! The male dove begins his courtship with a lot of noise, and then he flies up into the air in a graceful, circular flight, gliding with outstretched wings and his head down (probably looking to see if shes watching!). After he lands, he puffs up his chest, bobs his head up and down, and calls out to her. Once they mate, Mourning Doves create deep bonds; preening each others feathers, snuggling in treetops, and looking at new places to build their home together.
Baby Birds

Baby birds in a nest

The male dove searches local real estate, leading the female to nesting sites he thinks she may like but she is the one who actually decides where to build their home. He does the gathering of material and hands it to her while she builds the nest. Both are in charge of sitting on the eggs. The male has the morning and afternoon shift and the female the evening and night shift. Mama and papa doves take care of and feed the babies once theyre hatched. After the baby doves develop their wings well enough for flight, its the father who continues to feeds them for two more weeks, until they are strong enough to be on their own.

Orb Weaver Courtship

Western Spotted Orb-weaver

Western Spotted Orb-weaver The male tugs at her heart strings (web) when asking for permission to mate.The big orb webs you see in gardens are made by beneficial spiders. Orb-weavers capture garden pests in their beautiful, intricate webs. During mating season, the male spider roams around the garden, searching for a female. Once he has found a female orb weaver, he creates a small web near or within her web, and then begins to court her. He plucks at the strands of her web to entice her into coming closer, inviting her into his web. And, just in case she isnt in the mood, he has a safety drop line ready for a hasty escape. Unfortunately for this male Valentine, after he mates, he dies . . . and sometimes its because she eats him! (Sorry, I couldnt help mentioning at least one man-eater!)

Video of the Australian Peacock Spider Courtship

Here is a remarkable video showing the courtship dance of male peacock spiders . . . some get lucky, some not so much. . . .

Authors Note:

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the amorous life of natures critters. There are so many fun courtship displays; it would take a book to write about them all! Happy Valentines Day!
Donna Walker

Donna Walker-Hearts Pest Management Writer/Artist



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