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Dying crickets less choosy.

With parasitic flies gorging on her guts and the end approaching, a variable field cricket may have time to do only one more thing: Find a mate. Usually, female Gryllus lineaticeps (shown with adult fly) prefer males with fast chirps. But when being eaten alive by fly larvae, the crickets are willing to settle for slow-chirping sexual partners, evolutionary biologists Oliver Beckers of Indiana University in Bloomington and William Wagner Jr. of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln report in the April Animal Behaviour. Infested female crickets have about a week to find a mate and lay eggs before being killed by the fly larvae growing inside them. To find out whether infestation lowered females' mating standards, Beckers and Wagner placed fly larvae on female crickets and then played slow and fast chirp recordings from loudspeakers set in separate corners of a square chamber. Healthy females walked toward the fast chirping sound about 80 percent of the time, while infested females split their devotion about equally.

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Author:Rosen, Meghan
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 4, 2013
Words:175
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