Over there! Eat them instead!

A single golden egg bug can lower its risk of predator attack by lingering near a mating pair, report Scandinavian researchers.

Golden egg bugs, Phyllomorpha laciniata, have intrigued scientists because both males and females permit even unrelated females to deposit eggs on their backs. That load of eggs increases the chance that an ant will attack, report Arja Kaitala of the University of Oulu in Finland and Annkristin H. Axón of the University of Stockholm.

In the March Ecology, they report monitoring ant attacks. Given a choice between a singleton, even one loaded with eggs, and a bug pair preoccupied with mating, the ant attacks the pair. This ant preference might explain the observation that a mating pair in the field often has a single golden egg bug hanging around. The reproductive endeavor takes more than 10 hours.

Susan Milius is the life sciences writer, covering organismal biology and evolution, and has a special passion for plants, fungi and invertebrates. She studied biology and English literature.