STD Makes Crickets Mate Like Crazy

Highly contagious iridovirus also causes infertility, death
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2014 1:35 PM CDT
STD Makes Crickets Have More Sex

A newly discovered virus boosts the libido, encouraging those infected—that would be crickets, not humans—to have sex more often and with more partners. The highly contagious iridovirus transmits itself via close contact while mating, but not via insemination; it apparently passes from one's antennae to another's mouth. It also turns the insects' guts blue and kills them in weeks, NPR reports. Infected male crickets, identified in a new study, took just three minutes to begin the mating process when introduced to a female, as opposed to the normal 10 minutes. And females, who usually cut back on mating when sick, were just as geared up for a chirping good time.

It's not clear how the virus (which also sterilizes the crickets, the CBC reports) controls their behavior, researchers say, though it could influence hormone levels. It could also be that "when animals sense that they are very ill, they sometimes increase their reproductive output," says the study author. "Basically, because they are about to keel over, they might as well go for gold." So does this "cricket STD" relate to the human variety? Only in that the crickets showed none of the usual symptoms of illness, which is similar to how STDs operate in humans. (Click for another study about animals who "mate themselves to death.")

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