Sample text for Dr. Tatiana's sex advice to all creation / Olivia Judson.

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Dear Dr. Tatiana,

My name's Twiggy; I'm a stick insect. I've been copulating with my mate for 10 weeks now and I'm bored out of my skull, yet he shows no sign of giving up. He says he does it because he's madly in love with me, but I think he's just mad. Could he really mean it?

Sick of Sex, Bombay

Who'd have thought a stick insect would be one of the world's most tireless lovers? After 10 weeks, I can see why you've had enough. But think of it from this point of view: by turning himself into a living chastity belt he can guarantee that no one else has a chance to get near you. At least he's evolved to be merely half your length, so he's not too heavy to carry about.

But Twiggy, I'm afraid your suspicions were half right. Your paramour is not mad with love, he's mad with jealousy. His long copulations are the ultimate form of mate guarding. Scoundrels who love and leave may annoy the female so much that she throws their genes away. With the cricket, for example, as soon as her lover vanishes, she reaches round and removes the sperm he deposited. Instead of using it to fertilize her eggs, she has it for lunch. To have any chance at siring children, the male has to linger for at least half an hour to mumble sweet nothings and stroke her with his antennae.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Sex, Sex differences, Sexual behavior in animals