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Scientists: Bugs are Having Gay Sex by ’Accident’

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

In a new study, scientists say the majority of male insects are having same-sex relations. The reason? It's not because they're gay - they're doing it by accident, the British newspaper the Daily Mail reports.

According to the researchers, billions of male bugs are engaging in same-sex relations, such as courting and mating, because they are apparently confused during reproduction. The scientists say the insects are in a rush to reproduce (since they have a high evolutionary drive) and don't have the time to check the gender of their mate, so they accidentally have gay sex.

The British newspaper the Independent reports that 85 percent of male spiders and insects engage in same-sex activities.

Doctor Inon Scharf of Tel Aviv University and Doctor Oliver Martin of ETH Zurich University published the study in the journal of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology and say that bugs have not evolved to avoid same-sex partners.

The Daily Mail writes that some of the insects may think their partner is a female because they look similar to males or because of certain scents they have.

"It is unclear what role evolution plays in this curious situation. Like heterosexual behavior, it takes time and energy and can be dangerous - and it lacks the potential payoff of procreation," the researchers wrote, according to the Independent.

"Insects and spiders mate quick and dirty," Dr. Scharf said in August (the study was published on Oct. 21). "The cost of taking the time to identify the gender of mates or the cost of hesitation appears to be greater than the cost of making some mistakes."

The Daily Mail reports that in almost 80 percent of these cases, male bugs had sex with other male bugs because of "misidentification or belated identification of gender."

According to the researchers the bugs do not gain any benefits from having gay sex, however. The Daily Mail reports scientists thought the bugs were having gay sex to practice for heterosexual relations, dispose of old sperm, discourage predators or distract competitors. But the evidence does not supporter the scientists' theories.

"Homosexual behaviour may be genomically linked to being more active, a better forager, or a better competitor," Dr. Scharf said. "So even though misidentifying mates isn't a desirable trait, it's part of a package of traits that leaves the insect better adapted overall."


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