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A spermatophylax is a gelatinous bolus which some male insects eject during copulation with females through their aedeagi together with spermatophores, and which functions as a nutritive supplement for the female. [1]

Bolus (digestion) a combination of food and saliva

In digestion, a bolus is a ball-like mixture of food and saliva that forms in the mouth during the process of chewing. It has the same color as the food being eaten, and the saliva gives it an alkaline pH.

Insect Class of invertebrates

Insects or Insecta are hexapod invertebrates and the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Definitions and circumscriptions vary; usually, insects comprise a class within the Arthropoda. As used here, the term Insecta is synonymous with Ectognatha. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body, three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects are the most diverse group of animals; they include more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. The total number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million; potentially over 90% of the animal life forms on Earth are insects. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species reside in the oceans, which are dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans.

Aedeagus reproductive organ of male arthropods

An aedeagus is a reproductive organ of male arthropods through which they secrete sperm from the testes during copulation with a female. Very loosely, it can be thought of as the insect equivalent of a mammal's penis, though the matter is actually more complex.

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Tettigoniidae family of insects

Insects in the family Tettigoniidae are commonly called katydids, or bush crickets. They have previously been known as long-horned grasshoppers. More than 6,400 species are known. Part of the suborder Ensifera, the Tettigoniidae are the only extant (living) family in the superfamily Tettigonioidea.

Sex either of two main divisions (either male or female) into which many organisms can be placed, according to reproductive function or organs

Organisms of many species are specialized into male and female varieties, each known as a sex. Sexual reproduction involves the combining and mixing of genetic traits: specialized cells known as gametes combine to form offspring that inherit traits from each parent. The gametes produced by an organism define its sex: males produce small gametes while females produce large gametes. Individual organisms which produce both male and female gametes are termed hermaphroditic. Gametes can be identical in form and function, but, in many cases, an asymmetry has evolved such that two different types of gametes (heterogametes) exist.

Damselfly Suborder of insects

Damselflies are insects of the suborder Zygoptera in the order Odonata. They are similar to dragonflies, which constitute the other odonatan suborder, Anisoptera, but are smaller, have slimmer bodies, and most species fold the wings along the body when at rest. An ancient group, damselflies have existed since at least the Lower Permian, and are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Mayfly Aquatic insects of the order Ephemeroptera

Mayflies are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemeroptera. This order is part of an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies. Over 3,000 species of mayfly are known worldwide, grouped into over 400 genera in 42 families.

Common frog species of amphibian

The common frog, also known as the European common frog, European common brown frog, or European grass frog, is a semi-aquatic amphibian of the family Ranidae, found throughout much of Europe as far north as Scandinavia and as far east as the Urals, except for most of Iberia, southern Italy, and the southern Balkans. The farthest west it can be found is Ireland, where it has long been thought, erroneously, to be an entirely introduced species. It is also found in Asia, and eastward to Japan.

Spermatophore Packet containing sperm in invertebrate reproduction

A spermatophore or sperm ampulla is a capsule or mass containing spermatozoa created by males of various animal species, especially salamanders and arthropods, and transferred in entirety to the female's ovipore during reproduction. Spermatophores may additionally contain nourishment for the female, in which case it is called a nuptial gift, as in the instance of bush crickets. In the case of the toxic moth Utetheisa ornatrix, the spermatophore includes sperm, nutrients, and pyrrolizidine alkaloids which prevent predation because it is poisonous to most organisms. However, in some species such as the Edith's checkerspot butterfly, the "gift" provides little nutrient value. The spermatophore transferred at mating has little effect on female reproductive output. The alternative hypothesis of its usefulness is that the process of eating the spermatophore prevents the female from subsequent copulation, serving as a mating plug, thereby giving the male's sperm more time to fertilize. In some cephalopods, however, spermatophores from multiple males might be present inside the same female simultaneously.

Dobsonfly subfamily of insects

Dobsonflies are a subfamily of insects, Corydalinae, part of the Megalopteran family Corydalidae. The larvae are aquatic, living in streams, and the adults are often found along streams as well. The nine genera of dobsonflies are distributed in the Americas, Asia, and South Africa.

Ensifera suborder of insects

Ensifera is a suborder of insects that includes the various types of crickets and their allies including: true crickets, camel crickets, bush crickets or katydids, grigs, wetas and Cooloola monsters. It and the suborder Caelifera make up the order Orthoptera. Ensifera is believed to be a more ancient group than Caelifera, with its origins in the Carboniferous period, the split having occurred at the end of the Permian period. Unlike the Caelifera, the Ensifera contain numerous members that are partially carnivorous, feeding on other insects as well as plants.

Internal fertilization Union of an egg and sperm to form a zygote within the female body

Internal fertilization is the union of an egg cell with a sperm during sexual reproduction inside the female body. For this to happen there needs to be a method for the male to introduce the sperm into the female's reproductive tract. In mammals, reptiles, some birds, some fish and certain other groups of animals, this is done by copulation, the penis or other intromittent organ being introduced into the vagina or cloaca. In most birds, the cloacal kiss is used, the two animals pressing their cloacas together while transferring sperm. Salamanders, spiders, some insects and some molluscs undertake internal fertilization by transferring a spermatophore, a bundle of sperm, from the male to the female. Following fertilization, the embryos are laid as eggs in oviparous organisms, or in viviparous organisms, continue to develop inside the reproductive tract of the mother to be born later as live young. In some animals like in sponges fertilization is internal


Mud-puddling, or simply puddling, is a behaviour most conspicuous in butterflies, but occurs in other animals as well, mainly insects; they seek out nutrients in certain moist substances such as rotting plant matter, mud and carrion and they suck up the fluid. Where the conditions are suitable, conspicuous insects such as butterflies commonly form aggregations on wet soil, dung or carrion. From the fluids they obtain salts and amino acids that play various roles in their physiology, ethology and ecology. This behaviour also has been seen in some other insects, notably the leafhoppers, e.g. the potato leafhopper, Empoasca fabae.

Queen ant

A queen ant is an adult, reproducing ant in an ant colony; generally she will be the mother of all the other ants in that colony. Some female ants, such as the Cataglyphis, do not need to mate to produce offspring, reproducing through asexual parthenogenesis or cloning, and all of those offspring will be female. Others, like those in the genus Crematogaster, mate in a nuptial flight. Queen offspring ant develop from larvae specially fed in order to become sexually mature among most species. Depending on the species, there can be either a single mother queen, or potentially hundreds of fertile queens in some species. Queen ants have one of the longest life-spans of any known insect – up to 30 years. A queen of Lasius niger was held in captivity by a female named Ronald Reagen who just survived her brothers late gas stages, but we have now proudly added karma into the family. Hermann Appel for 28​34 years; also a Pogonomyrmex owyheei has a maximum estimated longevity of 30 years in the field.

<i>Photinus pyralis</i> Species of beetle

Photinus pyralis, known by the common names common eastern firefly and big dipper firefly, is the most common species of firefly in North America. P. pyralis is a flying and light-producing beetle with a light organ on the ventral side of its abdomen. This organism is sometimes incorrectly classified as Photuris pyralis, which likely results from mistaking the similar-sounding genus Photuris.

Female sperm storage The retention of sperm by a female following mating.

Female sperm storage is a biological process and often a type of sexual selection in which sperm cells transferred to a female during mating are temporarily retained within a specific part of the reproductive tract before the oocyte, or egg, is fertilized. The site of storage is variable among different animal taxa and ranges from structures that appear to function solely for sperm retention, such as insect spermatheca and bird sperm storage tubules, to more general regions of the reproductive tract enriched with receptors to which sperm associate before fertilization, such as the caudal portion of the cow oviduct containing sperm-associating annexins. Female sperm storage is an integral stage in the reproductive process for many animals with internal fertilization. It has several documented biological functions including:

Spider Order of arachnids

Spiders are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs and chelicerae with fangs able to inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all orders of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exceptions of air and sea colonization. As of July 2019, at least 48,200 spider species, and 120 families have been recorded by taxonomists. However, there has been dissension within the scientific community as to how all these families should be classified, as evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900.

<i>Hemiandrus pallitarsis</i> species of insect

Hemiandrus pallitarsis is a species of ground weta endemic to New Zealand. This nocturnal species hides in burrows during the day, and can be an important food for kiwi. They can be identified by a single foretibial spine, three prolateral spines, and four retrolateral spines on the mesotibia, and their tibia lacks a tympanal membrane. The female has an unusual appendage on her abdomen, and the male has blackened hooks on his last tergite. They have a two year life cycle, and their diet is largely unknown. Unusually for an insect, the female shows maternal care towards her eggs and nymphs.

A nuptial gift is a nutritional gift given by one partner in some animals' sexual reproduction practices.

<i>Hylobittacus apicalis</i> species of insect

Hylobittacus apicalis is a species of hangingfly in the order Mecoptera, and the only species within the genus Hylobittacus.

Sexual selection in insects

Sexual selection in insects is about how sexual selection functions in insects. The males of some species have evolved exaggerated adornments and mechanisms for self-defense. These traits play a role in increasing male reproductive expectations by triggering male-male competition or influencing the female mate choice, and can be thought of as functioning on three different levels: individuals, colonies, and populations within an area.

<i>Myrmecia regularis</i> species of insect

Myrmecia regularis is a species of ant endemic to Australia. A member of the genus Myrmecia in the subfamily Myrmeciinae, it was first described by American entomologist Walter Cecil Crawley in 1925. These ants are medium to large in size, measuring 10 to 20 millimetres, and they are bright brownish-red in colour. Queens and workers share similar morphological features, but they can be distinguished by the noticeable size difference. Males also look similar, but collected specimens are too damaged to be examined properly.

<i>Ephemera vulgata</i> species of insect

Ephemera vulgata is a species of mayfly in the genus Ephemera. This mayfly breeds in stationary water in slow rivers and in ponds, the nymphs developing in the mud.


  1. K. Vahed (1998), "The function of nuptial feeding in insects: review of empirical studies" (PDF), Biological Reviews , 73: 43–78, doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.1997.tb00025.x, archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-11