Is this some sort of insect threesome or what?

Here’s a picture taken with my camera phone in Houston, Texas, this Sunday. I resized that image, but if you want to look at the original (505 KB) for detail it’s here.

These pictures appear to be of three insects having some kind of ménage à trois. Is that in fact what’s going on here? Did the dude bug fly off and brag to all his friends? Or maybe it was two male bugs and one female bug, or maybe threesomes are totally plain vanilla for this particular species of insect. Also, what species of insect is this, anyway?

For comparison, here’s a picture taken Monday; it’s not really “missionary”–they’re end-to-end–but I’m guessing that maybe that’s more, uh, normal for this particular species of insect?

All pictures should be safe for work unless you’re some kind of beetle.

Bzzz-chicka-wow-wow

Plecia Nearctica

Also known more commonly as a “Lovebug” for obvious reasons. They’re always stuck in pairs while mating. I think your picture is of two males competing over one female. There won’t be any bragging afterwards as the males die afterwards.

I’ve been in relationships like that, though we weren’t all facing outward. Good times.

Not surprised that this happened in Houston.

The most surprising thing about that photo of love bugs is that there aren’t 57 billion others in the frame.

Thanks, Bear_Nenno!

Visiting Gainesville, Florida I had someone tell me (with a straight face, totally seriously) that LoveBugs were an experiment gone wrong over at the college.

[quote=“Darren_Garrison, post:5, topic:784890”]

The most surprising thing about that photo of love bugs is that there aren’t 57 billion others in the frame.[/QUO]

No kidding - I grew up just north of Houston and when those ‘love bugs’ were in season, you couldn’t drive three blocks to the store without nearly cloggging up car’s radiator and having to clean off windshield, it seemed, from the density of the swarms.

That’s apparently a widespread urban legend.

Snopes debunking: http://www.snopes.com/critters/lurkers/lovebugs.asp

My family ran into a giant swarm of them once while passing through Hollywood (no, not that one, the one in South Carolina.) I still remember some poor woman trying to cross a street while swatting away that them like a scene from a horror movie. We had to stop at a car wash and clean the windshield before we could drive on. (I hear that they are migrating north thanks to global warming, and, like fire ants, we may end up with them in my part of SC sooner or later.)

From the Clemson University Extension Service:

“Six or more males may be attracted to the same female, swarming around her in flight during the daytime. When the successful male unites with the female, they remain connected for many hours often still in flight, until the female either rubs him off or releases him.”

I think they could have found a better phrasing than “rub him off”, given the context…

I first heard this rumor 15 years ago and it totally blew my mind that so many people thought it was true. I posted here to try to find out how such a myth was created, but no luck. At that time, no one had even heard of the rumor (or even a love bug for that matter). Evidence of even the rumor’s existence was nowhere to be found on the net at the time. I chalked it up to being something only idiots in my family believed. But, I guess not.

Here’s the thread.

Apparently the idiots in your family are very good at spreading rumors.