February 1, 2010

Not That Different

This is the Valentine-themed entry. The February 15 book will have advice on dealing with the morning after.

Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs

This book was written by: James K. Wangberg, who writes that "much of my early research focused on insect natural history, which entailed countless hours of observing insect behaviors, including their most intimate acts"(p.8). Although some readers may be put off by this insect voyeurism, "the study of insect genitalia is a significant and highly legitimate area of scientific research"(p.63).

What is in this book: Every fetish you can find on the internet, replicated in the insect kingdom. "Long before teenagers discovered favorite spots to park, overlooking romantic city lights, bot flies were congregating in similar locations for much the same purpose"(p.50), and other insects engage in necrophilia (the digger bee, p.126), S&M/Bondage (Chapter 18), orgies (Chapter 19), bukkake (the springtail, p.72), Prostitution (Chapter 20), cosplay (the velvet ant, p.59), vegetable fetishes (the tiphiid wasp, p.80), and even the Wolbachia bacterium can turn wood lice into the equivalent of Thai ladyboys. Insects also have their own equivalent of Axe body spray. "Some insect males may produce their own powerful scent, which they conveniently leave on the body of the female after mating with her. Tainted with the odor of a male, she is no longer recognizable as a sexy female, consequently other males seeking a sex partner bypass her on their mating quest"(p.13).

Illustration from p.74, two bedbugs.
What is not in this book: Concern about upsetting squeamish readers with graphic details. Dr. Wangberg's description of the male feather-winged beetle discusses how:
[Its] sperm are up to two-thirds the length of the beetle himself. The gigantic sperm are so large that they literally fill up the female's reproductive system, leaving no room for others. Mated females have been found with sperm tails protruding from their vaginas, the competing sperm unable to enter(p.70)
Although this might seem to make oral sex a daunting proposition, "with literally millions of insects still to be discovered, imagine the delicious opportunities awaiting biologists, entomologists, and insect voyeurs"(p.133).

Would you recommend this book to Robert Donner or Curt Johnson? No. I respect their work on Minesweeper, which is a solid game, but god help us if they had read about how a male springtail will tend to a sperm field, "eating older sperm droplets and replacing them with fresh ones, to ensure the highest quality sperm for the female that wanders upon his property"(p.72). The resulting game would not have been nearly as popular beyond certain specialized niches.

Illustration from p.112, transgender wood louse.
Would you recommend this book to a Pick-Up Artist? Yes. You know how people tend to read items in a way that will confirm their own biases? Well, after seeing that "virgin females are strongly attracted to sexy sounding males who own nice property,"(p.46) they are going to see what other strategies from this book can be applied to their own lives, and the results will be hilarious.

What was interesting about this book? "The anal hairs on a cockroach can detect the on-rushing tongue of a toad!"(p.19). Now you know.

Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs, by James K. Wangberg, with illustrations by Marjorie C. Leggitt (Fulcrum Publishing, 2001, ISBN:1-55591-292-3

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Anonymous said...

This seems like a fantastic read.

Beth said...

Fascinating! But no roses, no chocolate?

I'm particularly enchanted by the scratchboard illustrations. I'd like to see a children's book (G-rated of course) called "George the Wood Louse Steps Out."


This is one of my favorite ones so far, and sounds like a book I would genuinely enjoy reading.

Bitterly Books said...

Alexi: It is pretty interesting. It cites a lot of technical papers and scientific work, but manages to stay entertaining and readable.

Beth: There are a lot of those illustrations throughout the book. Most of them are black lines on a white background--I scanned the "negatives" that are larger versions of the drawings that open each chapter.

TFI: I don't think I want to know much about your day job, but I'm glad you liked it!

Thanks for commenting!

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