Valen­tine’s Day is not just for hu­mans any longer

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Roshni Nair roshni.nair@hin­dus­tan­ A pair of court­ing rat-snakes caught in the act.

What are you do­ing on Valen­tine’s Day? We bet you can’t beat the mosquito.

There’s a lot of fancy woo­ing in the an­i­mal king­dom. Fire­flies flash their lights in se­cret codes, ci­cadas ser­e­nade in a choir, male bal­loon flies of­fer gifts to their lady love, wrap­ping prey in lovely lit­tle silken bub­bles. Back to the mosquito, it pro­duces sound at var­ied fre­quen­cies at dif­fer­ent stages of courtship. In many species, court­ing males and fe­males mod­u­late flight tones to con­verge to­ward a com­mon fre­quency. Talk about be­ing com­pat­i­ble!

Gift-giv­ing,mean­while,oc­curs among “snails, squid, crick­ets, la­dy­birds, bed­bugs, but­ter­flies, fire­flies, and hu­mans, as males at­tempt to im­prove chances of mat­ing,” says Geetha Bali, pres­i­dent of Etho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of In­dia. Some cheeky male bal­loon flies pre­sent empty gifts to trick fe­males into mat­ing. Birds are the most over-the-top valen­tines. They swoop, prance, dec­o­rate their nests. The Sarus Crane stands out. They prance, leap and toss grass about in a lovesick dis­play. Cer­tain species of whale have been known to ‘date’ or es­cort non-re­cep­tive fe­males for weeks be­fore mat­ing sea­son. Male hump­backs ‘sing’ too — but one study sug­gests they only do this when there are few or no males around. Bash­ful, per­haps?

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