Bug Sex – It’s Complicated (Review)

When it comes to writing reviews on here, I always come across the most interesting titles, and most interesting subject matters for films whether they be fiction or documentary. When it comes to adult content, I don’t usually bother. I can’t even look at the main page for pornhub and that’s probably for the best. But once in a while, I end up witnessing nature porn, like when two pigeons mate on the sidewalks of Vancouver, or in this case, bugs having intercourse. How do I explain this? Well, I’ll try.

As the opening indicates, it’s complicated. After an intro of all kinds of footage showing bug BDSM, and scientists explaining small bits of how it’s done, David Suzuki starts out by saying the way insects and arachnids have sex is astounding, and says they are the most important creatures in the world. He then explains the first step to studying insect innuendo (I’ll probably be making more alliterations, just a heads up) is to be a bug voyeur which is spending a LONG time watching bugs. We get even more info from Darryl Gwynne, who shows some crickets on cauliflower doing their mating ritual. First, a male seduces a female by singing a song, then forming a spermatophore. I could go into more detail about how this goes, but I’m trying to avoid censorship and a steady decline in viewers. Let’s move on to who, and what else is featured in this episode of The Nature of Things. We join some people from the University of Toronto Scarborough on their journey to Alberta to look for really big really musical and sexual crickets known as Monster Haglids. Maydianne Andrade and Andrew Mason with their team of entomology experts capture plenty of monster haglids to perform cases of cricket courtship and inspect the odd behaviours in their lab. But that’s not the only team this documentary studies on. We also get treated to another biologist from the University of Minnesota, Marlene Zuk. She has been studying them on islands in Hawaii and shows great concern over the fact that there were crickets that weren’t making noise. Let’s just say another species of bug larvae found a way to devour the cricket from the inside by laying larvae upon hearing the song. I’ve heard of being eaten out but this is beyond disturbing. 

But I haven’t gotten to the disturbing enough content, the next part explains how female spiders eat their mates to reproduce. Sheesh, I’ve met some mental people these past few years but I’m so glad they never engaged me like this. Luckily, some bugs catch on like I do (eventually) and avoid spider sex or microbe multiplication or whatever else I can come up with. Aside from our earlier buggy couple of Maydianne and Andrew studying how spiders try to avoid getting devoured sexually, we also get some insight by Catherine Scott of McGill University explains what spider genitalia can be like, and scopes black widows out at a beach in Vancouver. The details of spider sex go on for quite a while, but it’s interesting to watch, and a bit disturbing. Next came the return of Darryl as he explained while most species in the animal kingdom are males competing for females, dance flies have a role reversal, and then he heads out with a former student of his named Rosalind Murray who helps him capture some of the dance flies. As a swarm of dance flies come around and the females try to attract as many male dance flies for both mating and meals. Speaking of females, we then get a segment featuring Anita Aisenberg, a female entomologist who explains how many women have studied animal behaviour and then shows us some interactions between female spiders and potential sexual partners deep in the ground. Finally, everything concludes on Lisha Shao from the University of Delaware explaining fruit fly sex, males seem to enjoy ejaculating, and how their sperm tends to be extremely large.

I don’t often watch The Nature of Things, and when I do I discover more than I ever would. It’s too bad we don’t know enough about female insects but I hope with all the female entomologists out there, we will one day, hopefully learn more about their behaviours. It’s a great subject with some very interesting close-ups of bugs doing it. I never thought I’d see insect porn in all my days of media coverage, and who knows what will come onto The Nature of Things next. The people who converse about the subject are extremely professional and reveal so much more to this mite mating than you’d ever expect. There’s a lot of details I had to obscure and you’re probably curious to learn more. Well, keep an eye out this week as Bug Sex – It’s Complicated airs this Friday at 9PM on both CBC and CBC Gem.

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