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Fasting Fathers

As part of the mating process, female giant water bugs latch onto male water bugs and cement as many as one hundred and fifty eggs to his back, then leaves.

Close up of giant water bug

Photo: Eric Bégin (flickr)

Giant water bugs like this one partake in an interesting mating process where the male takes care of the eggs and eventually fasts in order to avoid eating his young

Do you know anything about giant water bugs?

Well, as part of the mating process, the female latches onto the male water bug and cements as many as one hundred and fifty eggs to his back. Then she leaves.

For the next month, the male is responsible for schlepping the eggs around. These aren’t low-maintenance eggs either.

While in the water, the male keeps the eggs aerated by doing deep knee bends to keep the water flowing. Plus, he also has to spend time sunning himself at the water’s edge to ward off parasites. After three weeks, the eggs triple in size. At this point, the intensely cannibalistic male stops eating. Otherwise, he’d end up eating his offspring as they hatch. Is that dedication or what?

The male water bug isn’t the only father in nature who stops eating for the sake of his offspring. The male emperor penguin stays inland, and away from food while incubating his mate’s egg over the long Arctic winter. He basically lives off his fat reserves until his offspring hatch.

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