Top 4 Strangest Pest Mating Rituals

In honor of Valentine's Day, the National Pest Management Association shares the most bizarre mating habits in the insect world

FAIRFAX Va. - The most romantic day of the year is almost here! What passes for love in the wacky world of insects, however, can be downright creepy and even fatal to some species. In honor of Valentine's Day, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) explores the top four weirdest methods insects use to woo a mate.

"While human romance is typically associated with flowers or chocolate, insects have some much more peculiar ways of expressing their adoration," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "Unfortunately for people, some of these pest mating rituals can even put their own loved ones at risk."

Fire ants, termites, kissing bugs and earwigs all make the list of the strangest mating rituals in the insect world.

  • Fire Ants: The fire ant queen can live for up to seven years. Male ants, called drones, aren't so fortunate. Their only role in the colony is to mate with the queen and they die soon after doing so. 
  • Termites: Female termites release "mating pheromones" that act as a perfume to entice male termites. Once the males locate the female termites, they will break off their wings, symbolizing that they are a couple.
  • Kissing Bugs: Despite their name, there's nothing romantic about these bugs! They not only bite the faces and lips of sleeping humans, but also frequently defecate on or near the bite wound, allowing the parasite that spreads potentially fatal Chagas disease to enter the bloodstream. This blood meal is necessary for male kissing bugs to mate and for female kissing bugs to lay eggs.
  • Earwigs: Once coupled with a female, male earwigs use their long cerci, which look like pincers, on their backsides to attach themselves to the female. Undisturbed, the earwigs often stay in this mating position for hours. 

 For more information on common household pests, visit PestWorld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit PestWorld.org.

###