Genital Reversal Seen in Brazilian Cave Bugs; Females With Penises Mount and Penetrate Males

Scientific American summarizes research published in the academic journal Current Biology. Female Insect Uses Spiky Penis to Take Charge. Subheading: “A cave insect’s marathon sex sessions extract nourishment along with sperm from a reluctant male.” Did that grab your attention?

In desolate caves throughout Brazil live insects that copulate for days, the female’s penetrating erectile organ sticking fast in a reluctant male’s genital chamber until he offers a gift of nutritious semen.

Is it weird that I find that opening sentence incredibly hot?

More detailed description of Neotrogla sexual practices later in the article:

When the flea-sized winged insects mate, the female mounts the male and penetrates deep into a thin genital opening in his back. Membranes in her organ swell to lock her in, and multiple spiky spines act as grappling hooks to anchor her tightly to the male. (When researchers tried to pull apart two mating insects, the female was gripping so tightly that the male was accidentally ripped in half, leaving his genitalia still attached to the female.) The tip of the female’s penis fits neatly into the male’s genitalia to allow her to receive a large, teardrop-shaped sperm capsule over their 40–70 hours of copulation.

The part about the “grappling hooks” doesn’t sound so appealing. But otherwise, yowza.

The article notes that the researchers are now “working to establish a healthy population in the lab, but the biggest challenge will be finding a suitable food to replace the cave-bat droppings”. OK, the infatuation is fading, these bugs are starting to gross me out.

The research team includes scientists from Japan, Brazil and Switzerland. They have identified four separate species of Neotrogla.