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Impending death alters crickets’ standards for mates

With a short time to live, parasite-infested females lose their preference for fast-chirping males

With parasitic flies gorging on her guts and the end approaching, a variable field cricket may have only one thing to do: Find a mate.

Usually, female Gryllus lineaticeps prefer males with fast chirps. But when being eaten alive by fly larvae, female crickets don’t wait around for a snappy tune. Instead, they settle for slow-chirping sexual partners, evolutionary biologists Oliver Beckers of Indiana University in Bloomington and William Wagner Jr. of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln report in the April Animal Behaviour.

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