[Sound of cricket mating call.] That's a cricket love song. Male crickets rub their legs together to produce the chirp in a bid to lure females. But 64 motion-sensitive infrared cameras have revealed that male crickets don't just sing for their mates--they actively seek them out. [Tregenza et al, http://bit.ly/dkWL1U]
The multiple cameras tracked 152 crickets in a Spanish field for an entire summer. In addition to battles over burrows and lurking predators, an even more grim reality emerged from the 250,000 hours of footage—most crickets have no descendants.
The most successful sires came in two types: Big crickets that didn't even have to sing to attract a few sex partners, or little males that chirped all night and mated with as many females as possible. But those crickets with the most offspring were simply those that lived the longest, regardless of size.
Female crickets are promiscuous, mating up to 40 times with a single partner but also hopping out for the occasional dangerous liaison. Regardless, DNA tests of the next generation showed that even the most successful cricket lovers produce only a handful of offspring from hundreds of eggs. The rest get eaten. Ain't love grand?
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]