Insect sex is, for the most part, similar to other animal sex. For most insects, mating requires direct contact between a male and a female. But for those of you who really want to know more about insect sex, here’s a bit more information about how insects mate.

How Wingless Insects Mate

The primitive insect orders (apterygota) rely on indirect methods of sperm transfer to mate. The male deposits a sperm packet, called a spermatophore, on a substrate. For fertilization to occur, the female must pick up the spermatophore.

While this may seem like a hit or miss way to mate, there’s a bit more to the male’s method than just dropping some sperm and running. Some male springtails go to great lengths to encourage a female to pick up his sperm. He may nudge her toward his spermatophore, offer her a dance, or even impede her path away from his sperm offering. Silverfish males attach their spermatophores to threads, and sometimes bind their female partners to force them to accept their sperm gifts.

How Winged Insects Mate

Most of the world’s insects (pterygota) mate the good old-fashioned way, with the male and female genitalia coming into direct contact with one another. But first, the couple must find each other and agree to mate. Many insects use extensive courtship rituals to choose their sexual partners.

When copulation finally occurs, the male inserts part of his aedeagus (penis) into the female’s reproductive tract. In many cases, this requires two steps. First, the male extend the aedeagus from his abdomen. Then, he extends his penis further by everting an inner, elongate tube called the endophallus.

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