A new study has revealed that male ambush bugs (Phymata americana) enhances their chances of sex through a hot and heated mechanism. These bugs have been known to camouflage themselves against flowers to trap prey.
The predatory insects are mostly yellow with dark brown or black patches, with the males having darker heads as well as thoraxes than females.
Now, scientists at the University of Ottawa have found that male ambush bugs may use these dark patches to take in light and heat up, thus boosting their mating chances.
For the study, the researchers painted ambush bugs with thin coatings of yellow and black paint to verify that darker colours led to hotter bugs.
Following this, they kept light- and dark-coloured male bugs in lab chambers at either 64 degrees F (18 degrees C) or 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) matching the morning and midday summer temperatures in Ontario, Canada, where the ambush bugs were collected.
They found that while both kinds of males had approximately the same chances of pairing with females at warmer temperatures, darker males succeeded more often when it was cool.
The team believes that a hotter body could assist the wing and leg muscles of the bugs, helping the males hunt for females.
"Sex differences in colour pattern are very common in the animal kingdom," LiveScience quoted lead researcher David Punzalan, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Ottawa, as saying.
He added that the fact these colours truly have a physical effect on the males "adds a different twist to an old story."
The study is published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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