I was so intrigued by dance flies in last week’s article that I decided to continue my poking around to include crickets in this week’s news. Thanks to you, my readers, for telling me how very much you enjoyed last week’s column.
Incidentally, three weeks ago I lamented my bad sleep habits. And following my whining I received numerous generous suggestions on how to get a good night’s sleep. I’m happy to report that I’m much more rested lately — following Ilene’s suggestion of taking “a tablespoon of a liquid calcium/magnesium supplement within an hour of going to sleep.”
So back to the mating habits of bugs … among them, females, not males, usually do the mate choosing.
And it isn’t easy.
In crickets, attractive males (those who draw females most quickly) pass along superior genes to their offspring. But mating with cricketdom’s Robert Pattinson comes at a cost. (Pattinson is, I understand from a survey of young ladies, the ultimate current “hottie” … I said I would have chosen Clark Gable. “Clark who?” they ask.) Fewer females survive the experience, in part because the male somehow manipulates them to devote most of their energy to reproduction rather than staying alive.
A “Dear Abby” for crickets would wrestle with this: should a female mate with an attractive male, at great risk to her own health, but to the apparent benefit of her offspring? Or should she stick to homely males, bearing offspring that are less fit, but survive to mate again?
In nature, “fitness” — in the sense of — “survival of the fittest” — means how many descendants you leave. So the relevant number is how many grandkids each strategy produces. When female house crickets choose attractive males, biologists find the immediate costs are outweighed by the eventual benefits. The females survived about six days after mating, compared with 10 days for females who chose crickets only a mother could love.
But the doomed females had sons so appealing to female crickets (they were more than twice as likely to mate as the sons of homely dads) that mom’s shortened lifespan was outweighed by gaining more grandchildren. Her descendants grew in number 25-percent faster than they would have with a safer but homelier mate, the scientists report.
Whether the behavior of dance flies and crickets has any lessons for humans is left as an exercise for the reader. But if you doubt that people make bizarre mate choices, consider this. Studies show that women tend to choose different types of men for a “fling” than for a husband. It is also a common observation that in poor cultures, men tend to prefer heavier women, while in wealthy cultures they prefer thinner ones.
A team of research psychologists found a way to make young male volunteers feel poor or rich. Sure enough, when the men felt poor their stated “ideal” woman weighed more than when they felt well off. Which suggests an approach women might want to try if they’ve “accidentally” put on a few extra pounds. Make him feel poor (in this economic climate, you may not have to try very hard). Then he will appreciate the extra bit of girth that resulted from that chocolate mousse (or in my case, apple pie).
Ice fishing tourney
The Pagosa Lakes annual Winter Ice Fishing Tournament at Village Lake this past Saturday was a great success. Over 200 contestants turned out for the tournament, the fishing was good and the weather was fine. Most anglers were having excellent success with perch and trout and a handful of folks got into some very nice bass and crappie. Nearly 40 kids turned out as well, and every single one of them took home a great prize, including fishing poles, tackle boxes and fishing tackle.
It could not have been a much nicer day, with clear skies and just a little bit of late afternoon wind to stir up the fishing. The format for this year’s tournament was a little different than in years past, with the winners being determined by the largest fish caught versus most fish, which we’ve done previously. The size was determined by weight and when the horn sounded at 2:30 p.m., everyone ran for the scales. The categories included largest trout, bass, crappie and yellow perch, with a separate grand slam category where the total combined weight of any four species was a winner.
The winner of the largest trout (two pounds) was Jim Benavidez, with Danielle Austin, Doug Krueger, Dickie Warring and Chris Phelps not far behind. The largest bass (three pounds) was hauled in by Daniel Dorfsmith, who was trailed closely by Richard Escalante, Mike Schneider and Eduardo Mendez. The largest perch was caught by Matt Dorfsmith, trailed by Mike Wizner, Steven Gaylor and Ann Lendbed. Only two crappie were caught in the adult contest, and Doug Carron took first place with a one-pound crappie followed by Sam Pettigrew. The grand slam winners were Walker Crain, Steven Gaylor and Mason Allen. All in all, about $2,000 in cash prizes were awarded to the winners.
We want to also give out a big thank you to Mike Haynes and Eagle Mountain Mercantile for sponsoring the event. Eagle Mountain Mercantile donated a number of great door prizes that were raffled off at the end of the day and they also helped out significantly with the kids’ prizes. It was a lot of fun, and we definitely plan on doing it again next year.