Does a male’s age have anything to do with how attractive they are to females? In the case of crickets, the answer is apparently yes.
Older Males Attract Females
Researchers of a new study wanted to see if male crickets’ age have anything to do with how attractive they are to the females of the species, so they had a look at 10 years worth of video monitoring of all the crickets in a Spanish meadow. Interestingly, the researchers found that the older males were actually better at enticing the females to go back to their burrows with them, while the younger males have a harder time.
According to the researchers, this preference might be because the older crickets have shown that they can live for a long time and therefore have the best genes. On the other hand, those who choose the younger males may have done so because their genes might not have accumulated mutations that can be passed onto their offspring.
Age And Reproduction
However, even if the older males were essentially more attractive to the females, they mated less frequently than the younger ones. That said, the researchers did not find any relationship between the male’s age and the number of offspring they produced. As such, they note that the females’ strategy of choosing the older males is only partially effective, as the younger males might also live to be as old or even older than the generation before them.
“It seems that the age of a male is a poor guide to his suitability as a mate. This was reflected in the opposing effects it had on their success in pairing up and mating with females,” said study coauthor Professor Tom Tregenza.
For now, the researchers released an online game called Cricket Tales where people can help them monitor how insects might be affected by climate change.
The study is published in Animal Behaviour.