These Cockroaches Start Eating Each Other After Sex, And Not Because They’re Hungry

by akoloy

Male and feminine wooden roaches are one of many few insect {couples} suspected of actually mating for life. The secret to at least one species’ long-lasting love? A little bit of mutual cannibalism.

In a revelry of post-coital bliss, mating cockroaches (Salganea taiwanensis) have been filmed chowing down on one another’s wings for days on finish, taking turns to eat and be eaten.


What’s extra, out within the area, over 99 p.c of roach mother and father seem to own chewed stumps for wings, which suggests the follow is widespread.

Collecting wild specimens within the woods of Japan, researchers have now filmed 24 pairs of bugs over the course of three days to determine what these creatures are doing and why.

Most of the time after mating, the roach being eaten within the footage remained fully immobile. Just over a 3rd of the time, the recipient “violently shook its body left and right“, which might generally get its mate to cease. In half the {couples}, the feasting continued till all 4 wings had been utterly gone.

eth13133 fig 0002 mDrawing of a mating pair throughout mutual wing‐consuming behaviour. (Haruka Osaki)

Sexual cannibalism is not all that odd for bugs per say, nevertheless it often entails the feminine consuming the male in a means that’s deadly. The reverse is uncommon, and reciprocal feeding fully distinctive.

If this form of mutual cannibalism actually does exist in nature, it suggests true monogamy – the place the behaviour of 1 intercourse advantages the opposite and vice versa in an equal means –  is feasible, albeit exceedingly uncommon. No such relationship has ever been noticed within the wild.


The outcomes from the present examine solely occurred in a lab – not out within the wild, however the authors argue if there weren’t some profit to each roaches, you’d anticipate them to kick up a bit extra of a fuss when their associate is snacking on them.

In truth, it most likely has extra to do with grooming than consuming. Because roach wings are usually not product of precise flesh, chewing on these appendages most likely would not present a lot dietary worth to their mate.

Instead, the authors counsel this explicit type of wooden roach partakes in mutual cannibalism to  enhance their mate’s survival, to allow them to elevate younger for years on finish with out having to fret about betrayal.

After flying from their delivery place and discovering a mate, wood-eating roaches feed and defend their younger within the consolation of a rotting log, elevating them collectively and sharing the parenting load.

In such cramped quarters, their wings are most likely not all that helpful. These appendages might additionally go away the bugs susceptible to mites, an infection, and the temptations of different roaches.


In maturity, a pair of grownup flightless roaches hardly enters one other couple’s log. Simply leaving the house deprives the grownup roach of meals, and with out lengthy wings, they’re extra inclined to predators.

Removing every others’ wings might due to this fact be essentially the most loving act for roaches of this type, making certain a associate’s survival, their constancy, and their skill to assist elevate younger for the remainder of their grownup lives.

It’s not unusual for different bugs to lose their wings in maturity, however they often haven’t got assist from a devoted different. 

Wood roaches seem able to cannibalism with out the battle.

The examine was printed in Ethology.


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