You'd think mating in the animal kingdom would be a simple thing. The biggest, strongest male gets to mate with the females. Or maybe he has to prove himself in combat with another male first, whatever.
But mating among animals and insects is no less complicated than it is among humans. It's all about being devious, and when it comes to sex, even the lowest of life forms have mastered the art of trickery, deceit and blackmail.
Scorpionflies, hangingflies and other Mecoptera are pretty terrifying-looking insects (not surprising for giant flying predatory fleas), but they also have a romantic side; during the mating season, males will find the juiciest, tastiest-looking bugs they can catch and present them like a box of chocolates to the females, who will carefully judge the offering and reciprocate the gesture with however much exoskeletal humping his effort deserves.
This has to be worth a proboscis job!
Unfortunately, competition for armor-plated pussy can get pretty fierce, and weaker males can have trouble outdoing the eviscerated cockroaches seductively waved around by stronger, more confident men. Those bastards! How do you compete with that?!
"Just look at the size of his tail bulge!"
Well, you'd think maybe they'd try to steal the kills from the bigger males, or something that makes you feel proud of the nerds of the species. But you forget that bugs really don't have a concept of "dignity."
"Is there something in my proboscis?"
So, taking a page from about a million '80s high school comedies, the desperate underdog males will sometimes impersonate females. You know, so that the tough-guy males will offer them juicy bugs in order to mate with them. Then the little guy simply takes those offerings and regifts them to score himself some segmented tail. Next time you see some douchebag picking up college girls in his Ferrari, just dress in drag long enough to swipe the keys.
Warning: Moderate-to-heavy fondling may be required.
Squid sex is rough enough on anime chicks, but it's even worse if you're a male squid. Yeah, you're a badass sea monster with a razor-sharp beak, a tongue covered in rasping teeth and muscular tentacles lined with hundreds of razor-edged suckers, but so is she ... and she's usually bigger than you.
Above: Humans using electricity to force a male squid to "mate" with a dead female. Science, bitches!
Skipping the entire challenge of courtship, some species of squid store their sperm in complex arrowlike packets they can unexpectedly unleash on the female like a volley of spoogemissiles, fleeing back into the depths before she can even friendzone him.
"Have fun wringing child support out of some other chump!"
The female might not even notice he was ever there, except for the spunk-filled needles now drilling into her body. The literal cock rockets first adhere to the female's skin with a cementlike secretion, then release digestive enzymes to drive themselves deeper and deeper. Whether or not she was ready to settle down, her body will automatically absorb and utilize the sperm almost anywhere it hits, making the male squid sort of like a flying rape gun and the female squid sort of like one big inside-out fanged vagina.
In other words, you don't need to feel bad about eating them.
If you've visited a pond in the springtime almost anywhere in the world, chances are pretty high you've seen some insects called Gerridae or water striders, who skate along the water's surface like magical little insect messiahs. Little did you know they were busy perfecting insane new lows in the art of extortion.
Also: Ponds look disgusting up close.
Skipping any kind of courtship process, a male strider will just skate over to the nearest female and climb on top of her. If she's not in the mood, she can simply block him off with her "genital shield," a natural insect chastity belt. Many males just get discouraged and find some sluttier thorax to chase after, but desperate, possibly sociopathic males will talk her into it with a unique type of extortion.
See, a natural enemy of the water strider is its own close cousin the backswimmer, an insect that spends all of its time hanging upside-down from the other side of the water's surface tension. If a female strider won't open the back door, a persistent male will strum the water in just the right way to grab the attention of backswimmers, basically splashing around like an idiot until she has to choose between shutting him up with sex or getting eaten by her mirror-world doppelganger.
Image by Chang S. Han
"How much Axe did you put on? I'll take my chances with the monster."
Keep in mind, the male is on top, so he'd be protected from the predator approaching from below. He can basically wait there all day, with the female's choice to either let him have his way or get eaten. Though it'd have to be a pretty big ego bruise for the males every time a female chooses the latter.
"I want to drown myself but I can't stop floating!"
When a girl antelope blossoms into adulthood and starts to feel funny about boy antelopes, she may leave her own herd to mingle with others, a good evolutionary strategy for a healthy gene pool. Males, of course, are too busy thinking with their dongs to worry about the finer points of natural selection and will do whatever it takes to keep a fine piece of tail close to home.
You would, too, if you looked this stupid.
Under normal circumstances, when a male antelope spots danger, it's his duty to let out a warning signal telling the herd to stick close together -- safety in numbers and all. Since you can never be too careful when you're made of meat in lion country, the whole herd blindly obeys these warning cries every single time.
Some males have learned to take advantage of this. So, when a male spots a hot young female straying from the herd, he'll let out the same warning call he normally reserves for approaching lions, and even aim it right in the direction she was headed, employing shockingly human dishonesty to manipulate a potential lay. No matter how many times he pulls the same bullshit, she has no real reason to doubt him and would be crazy to risk getting eaten alive. Also, she's just a stupid animal.
Shit, there goes another one! It's like it's raining lions!
Life can really suck for a male moth. He only has a short time to pass on his genes before he dies, he shares the night sky with thousands of hungry bats and he's nothing but a defenseless flying dust bunny full of protein.
Why do I even exist?
Fortunately, some moths have evolved a pretty cool defense mechanism against the bat menace -- they emit their own ultrasonic clicks similar to the bat's sonar, effectively jamming the predator's signals. One species, however, has turned what was once a lifesaving defense into nothing but a cheap, dirty pick-up tactic.
Much like how "peacocking" was bastardized by hipster "pick-up artists."
In the armyworm moth, only the male comes equipped with the ultrasonic organs, and instead of using them on bats, they use them almost solely in the presence of female moths. Armyworm moths basically fly around screaming "Rarrgh! I'm a VERY NEARSIGHTED sky monster who eats SEXY CHICKS! There better not be any SEXY CHICKS flying around out here!"
"Also, I ... uh ... hear there are some seriously big-dicked moths hanging around. You should totally get you some of that."
Now, since the female doesn't have these organs at all, her only defense against a bat is to land somewhere and stay perfectly still, waiting for the danger to pass. You can guess what happens next.
In the microscopic mite Adactylidium, females are born pregnant and males aren't technically born at all. You don't want to know how, but you know we're going to tell you and you know you're going to keep reading, because Cracked is the most devious animal of them all.
You think we look creepy on the outside?
From birth, the female Adactylidium already has around a half dozen female embryos inside her ... and just a single male. Not content to grow up and compete for sex like any normal animal, each unborn female takes a turn using her unborn brother to impregnate herself, guaranteeing her reproductive success before she even steps out into the world.
Mites. We get laid before we're even born.
When they're all ripe and ready to go, they devour their own mother from the inside-out and leave the male to flounder and die by mom's corpse; he serves no further purpose and has no means to even feed himself. Meanwhile, every one of his sisters is already carrying an incestuous unborn rape orgy inside of her like a nesting doll from hell. Mites, ladies and gentlemen!
"We're even more awful than we look!"
Dinoponera quadriceps is an unusual species of "queenless" bullet ant, forming small colonies of just a couple dozen females who attract flying males when they're ready to mate -- males who might be better off finding themselves a nice lonely widow spider or bark scorpion or maybe a windshield to sex up.
There are actually a number of male insects who prevent competition from future males by just never ever pulling out. They lodge themselves in there and tag along wherever she goes, which our Southern readers may have observed in swarms of "lovebugs."
"We don't use protection, either!"
This seems like another dick move, but it's actually beneficial to the female as well, sparing her harassment from an endless chain of additional suitors. In queenless ants, the real dick move comes from the female. She doesn't want to keep getting hassled by guys, but she doesn't want to drag a guy around by his junk all day either. So, she chews his ass in half and leaves him behind to die, carrying his rotten crotch around to let everybody know she's spoken for. Hey, it's not her fault he was too cheap for a ring.
"Suddenly, joining the clergy doesn't sound all that bad."
Find more from Jonathan at bogleech.com.
For more bizarre sexual acts out of Mother Nature, check out 5 Animals That Can Do Amazing Things ... With Their Penises and The 15 Most Bizarre Animal Mating Rituals.
And stop by LinkSTORM wash your brain clean of the horror you just read. (Just kidding -- it only gets worse from here.)
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