Behavior And Reproduction

Angel insects live in groups that are probably founded by a single female. They may have a well-defined social structure. Larger, older males dominate these colonies. They will either avoid other males or engage in head butting, grappling, chasing, and kicking. Angel insects spend a great deal of time grooming themselves and each other.

Winged angel insects are carried over wide distances by wind currents. This explains the presence of some species on isolated islands out in the ocean. After finding a suitable habitat, winged individuals seek the shelter of a rotten log and soon shed their wings. Adults with wing stumps are frequently found in young colonies.

Zorapterans usually reproduce by mating, but males are sometimes very rare. Females of a Panamanian species usually reproduce by parthenogenesis (PAR-thuh-no-JEH-nuh-sihs), a process where the young develop from unfertilized eggs. However, they will also mate with males on those occasions when they meet. Males are larger than females and sometimes fight each other before they can mate with nearby females. Females may mate every few days, either with the same male or with a variety of partners.

In another Central American species, males do not dominate the colonies. During courtship the male presents the female with a drop of liquid produced from a gland on his head. Males and females touch each other with their antennae before mating. Mating is brief but may occur several times, one right after the other.

Angel insects guard their eggs and cover them with chewed bits of food. Eggs take several weeks to hatch. The larvae closely resemble the adults but lack wings and are not capable of reproduction. They develop gradually and molt, or shed their exoskeletons or hard outer coverings, four or five times before reaching adulthood. Adults live for about three months.

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