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Why the Clown Bugs have the strong hind legs?

Some species in Family Coreidae, including the Clown Bugs, have their hind legs expanded and somewhat leaf-like, and some of them are commonly called Leaf Footed Bugs. The bugs cannot jump like grasshoppers. They do not use their legs to catch other insects like preying mantids. Their legs seems not effective as a defence weapon. Why the bugs have their strong hind legs?

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We sometimes found the male bugs standing on the top of a small plant with one hind leg extended. In the second pictures, one of the the bug's hind leg is missing. It did not change it posture even we disturbed.  

From our observations, we believe the bugs' strong hind legs is the result of sexual selection. The females choose their mates with stronger hind legs. The males fright with each other with their hind legs. 

We have put two male Clown Bugs together, sometimes they fright with each other. They hold each other with the front and middle legs, use their hind legs try to cut the others hind legs. If we inspect carefully, we can see that the front part of their hind leg is like a saw and the middle parts of the hind leg form a cutter. We do see a bugs broken his hind legs after frighting. And the fright was end soon after one loss his hind leg.

We can predict that a male bug will have the stronger hind legs. By checking with a number of mating pair, we found that this is true. And we learn how to tell the gender of a Clown Bugs by looking at its hind legs.

This explain why sometimes we can see a Clown Bugs setting on the plant tip with its hind legs fully extend outwards. This is a male advertising his hind legs are so strong, or at least have not been broken. The strong and well shaped hind legs are used as the sign of fitness by the female bugs.

This also explain for some species, their hind legs are over emphasised as board leaf-like. 

This should predict a female will only mate with a male with two good hind legs. We have observed many mating pairs but cannot have conclusion yet. We do sometimes find mating pair with single-hind-leg male. We need more observations on this.

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Last updated: November 06, 2006.