Genital Wars: Bat Bugs

Researchers have discovered that bat bugs, an African insect, have developed an interesting evolutionary trait to protect themselves from….themselves. According to this article on nationalgeographic.com, bat bugs–a relative and fellow blood sucker to bed bugs–have a pretty gruesome mating ritual. Male bat bugs do not perform their coital duties like gentleman. Rather, they prefer to use their sharp, pointed members to stab their female partners right through their exoskeletons, injecting sperm directly into the bloodstream. As an evolutionary response to this, female bat bugs have developed fake genitals or “paragenitals” on their backs that guide the males’ appendages into a spongy landing area where they cannot do as much harm. But wait, there’s more!
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An illustration of bat bugs recreating a scene from West Side Story

Male bat bugs don’t only mate with females; they mate with males as well, stabbing each other in the backs and causing massive amounts of damage to one another. How do they protect themselves? Why with paragentials of course! Researcher, Klaus Reinhardt of the University of Sheffield in England, has recently discovered that male bat bugs have developed paragentials to protect themselves. But wait, there’s more!

Reinhardt also discovered that some females are now developing paragenitals that are more like the successful males’ paragentials then their own. Why not give peace a chance?

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Where will it end?


  1. #1 TR Gregory
    September 26, 2007

    Neat case. Got a list of refs?

  2. #2 Benny
    September 26, 2007

    Whoops! I totally forgot to site the article from National Geographic Online. I just put a link in the post.

  3. #3 bug_girl
    October 1, 2007

    Actually, these bat bugs are often mistaken for bed bugs when someone gets rid of a bat infestation. The hungry bat bugs come downstairs looking for a snack…..

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