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'Sex on Six Legs' is focus of UC Riverside biologist's book
Date:7/20/2011

erm and Eggs on Six Legs"; and ignorance about the sex of social insects in "Seinfeld and the Queen."

"The book is not just about sex although the book sure has a lot of it," she says. "That's really because mostly what insects do is, well, all about reproduction. They have short life spans and so they simply have to get on with it."

Zuk did not want to write another "bugs-are-cool" book, and prefers that her latest work be tagged as a "thinking person's bug book." A celebration of a world that is alien and familiar at the same time, the book, she notes, is an invitation to the latest news about insect lives.

She discusses a variety of intriguing insect behavior in the book. For example, she explains how the emerald cockroach wasp directs the movements of a cockroach, giving insights into mind control. She writes about how honeybees it turns out they can count navigate using landmarks and use information from each other to find food. She describes how female ants coordinate their effort with military discipline when it comes to acquiring food. And she illustrates how a greater understanding can be had of decision-making from studying social insects like bees, wasps and ants.

"One reason researchers like me are drawn to studying insects is that they are convenient to keep in the lab," she says. "Insects don't notice you when you are around, so you can observe them easily. Further, you can raise them under controlled conditions. And you have lots of them so you can always find some for your purpose. Plus, their vast diversity and behavior whether it's honeybees' genitals exploding after sex, or a female mantis eating her mate can be used to answer just about any question you have."

To call or not to call

Zuk also explores in the book what happens in evolution when you have two conflicting selecting pressures acting at the same time on an organism. She discusses male crickets in Hawai`i, which '/>"/>

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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