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When Insects Get Intimate

Part of SciCafe


Inspiring fear and fascination alike in humans, insects are capable of incredibly complex behavior like personality, and language. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, behavioral ecologist Marlene Zuk examines the bedroom lives of bugs, showing how  six-legged sex lives can be just as interesting as our own.

This SciCafe event occurred on February 1, 2017. Hear the full program in this podcast, or watch a version here:


About the Speaker

Marlene Zuk presenting a Ted Talk with image of an ant projected on a screen behind her

Marlene Zuk is an evolutionary biologist, writer, and professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Her lab focuses on emerging questions in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology, using invertebrate systems to study the evolution of mating behavior and secondary sexual characters in natural populations.  

Read More

  • Check out the Zuk Lab, focused on emerging questions in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology.
  • Watch a TED Talk about what we learn from insects’ sex lives.
  • Marlene Zuk’s book, Sex on Six Legs, examines the bedroom lives of creepy crawlies but also calls into question some of our own long held assumptions about learning, the nature of personality, and what our own large brains might be for.
  • Read about the speaker’s current research on crickets, and how these insects have evolved a strategy to avoid becoming a maggot's lunch.
  • See Isabella Rossellini’s web series “Mammas” that explores the concept of maternal instinct in the animal world.

Frequent Geek Cards

Get your card stamped at the information table when you attend SciCafe.

  • Three stamps—get a free drink
  • Five stamps—get a free Frequent Geek T-shirt.
  • All nine stamps— and receive get two tickets to a special exhibition of your choice.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Bring three friends who are new to SciCafe to become a "SciCafe Ambassador”—an honor that comes with a free drink!

Send Us Your Playlist!

Curate a playlist based on February's SciCafe topic, “When Insects Get Intimate,” for a chance to have it played at the event.

Step #1: Log-in to your Spotify account
Step #2: Follow amnhpublicprograms 
Step #3: Curate a 90-minute playlist based on monthly the month’s SciCafe theme
Step #4: Title your album playlist by month and your name (we want to be sure to give you a shout-out!)
Step #5: Share it with amnhpublicprograms

MicroCulture: A Social Card Game About the Human Microbiome

Get to know your fellow SciCafe geeks in this card-based social game that embodies the behavior of the human microbiome. Be a part of the largest culture of human microbes at the end of the evening to receive geeky giveaways.

The SciCafe Series is proudly sponsored by Judy and Josh Weston.