The First Time
Basic Instincts: A genteel disquisition on love and lust in the animal kingdom.
For humans, sexual initiation can be a big deal—obsessed about, romanticized. The loss of virginity, it's said, leaves one forever changed.
"Tell me about it," says the male hump-winged grig. The first female he mates with takes not just his innocence but bites of his body.
Grigs are cricket-like insects whose annual mating season involves what behavioral ecologist Scott Sakaluk calls "an unusual form of sexual cannibalism." To entice a female grig, a male makes a call by rubbing his forewings together, an act called stridulation. The male then seals the deal by letting the female munch on his hind wings during sex and lap up the hemolymph, the bug version of blood. "One night he's a virgin. The next night he's