Female Insect Has Built-In Sperm Donors

April 26, 2016 | Posted In: General

Female Insect Has Built-In Sperm Donors

The cottony cushion scale insect has developed an interesting way to make the male members of the species obsolete. Some female cottony cushion scales have developed the ability to fertilize their own eggs, removing the need to find a male to mate with.

More and more female cottony cushion scales have began to be born with excess sperm inside them that is genetically identical to their father, which grows into a parasitic tissue that fertilizes the female’s eggs internally. Scientists have built a model that predicts that eventually all of the female cottony cushion scales will develop this parasitic sperm tissue, negating the need for males.

However, other scientists argue that if this happens, the cottony cushion scale will end up going extinct fairly rapidly. With hermaphroditic insects, the benefits of normal mating between male and female insects such as parents passing on new combinations of genes to their offspring that make the species more robust, will be lost. The one confusing aspect about these female hermaphrodite cottony cushion scales is that they are technically not hermaphrodites. They actually have two individuals living in one body…weird, huh.

What do you think of this development in the cottony cushion scale that could make males obsolete? Do any of you wish human females had this ability?