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Bisexual beetles don't prefer mating with insects of the same sex, they're just incompetent at mating, a new study suggests.

A study of same sex behaviour in red flour beetles found that within populations of mostly female beetles, male beetles were far more likely to mate with other male beetles.

In populations of mostly male beetles, they mostly mated with female beetles.

The researchers concluded that, where there was less pressure to find a mate, the beetles simply made more mistakes, because mistakes weren't as costly to reproductive success.

Kris Sales, a PhD researcher who led the research at the University of East Anglia University, explained:

In the male-biased lines we found the male beetles were much more competitive at finding females and mating them efficiently.

He continued:

In the female-biased lines, it’s highly likely that a male mating randomly will actually mate with a female and therefore produce offspring. In these lines it looks as though males have lost their abilities to discriminate between male and female mates.

Same sex mating is a common occurrence in the beetle community, with over 100 species engaging in it. In some species, it is more common that heterosexual mating.

Despite shedding light on the sexuality of insects, the research can't reveal much about same sex behaviour in mammals, explained Mr Sales:

These results cannot be generalised to explain the behaviours of animals with more complex cognitive function and social structures like birds and mammals, which are likely to have very different reasons for same sex mating.

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