McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
You would, too, if there were parasitic flies threatening to chew out your internal organs and take over your body as they slowly killed you.
University of Florida researchers have been working for years to document these mysteries of the cricket world. Last month, they published the second of two scientific papers linking the behavior of the southeastern field cricket, Gryllus rubens, to the evolutionary instinct to survive.
Crickets, if you believe the research, are showing the rest of us a natural instinct to change mating patterns based on outside threats.
The parasitic flies are only around in autumn and they're attracted by the crickets' mating song, said Jane Brockmann, a zoology professor who worked on the cricket studies with former graduate student Manuel Velez.
"Every time a male sings in the fall, he runs the risk" of getting chewed to death, said Brockmann. "But in the spring, he can sing to his heart's content," Brockmann said.
The team also learned that female crickets are quicker to respond to the males' calls in the spring than they are in fall, perhaps fearing they will get a parasite. About 10 percent of crickets get the parasitic fly.
Velez spent long nights in the fields and other cricket hangouts around Gainesville watching the crickets, listening to their love songs and catching them in the act. Such a life apparently had its limits. After earning his Ph.D. in 2004, he went to law school in Puerto Rico.
(c) 2006, The Miami Herald.
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