Zeus Bugs

The unusual breeding behaviour of a small Australian water beetle has intrigued scientists. The female of the recently discovered Zeus Bug, Phoreticovelia disparata, takes full responsibility of the male's meals. It is a unique case of insect role reversal in which it is the females that are the gift-bearers and providers. The scientists observed the insects, which live on the surface of ponds and lakes, and noted how the male of the species would ride piggyback on top of the females for the entire 2-3 week mating season. Closer investigation reveals that the males were actually feeding from the female via a special gland on her back. This type of relationship benefits the male, but scientists are puzzled as to why the female would accept such a burden, especially after mating has completed.

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