The Love Bugs

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The complicated mating rituals of Maine lobsters might make you turn red.

By Virginia M. Wright
Excerpted from The Maine Lobster Book, by Virginia M. Wright, Down East Books, Camden, Maine; hardcover; 114 pages; $14.95.
Image ©IStockPhoto.com/JoeiVanVeen

A lady lobster knows what she wants, and what she wants is the guy with a reputation for toughness and strength, the guy all the other lobsters in the neighborhood fear and respect. So she woos him. She leaves gifts — urchins, mussels, sea stars — at his front door. When she has his attention, she boldly moves in. And once they are better acquainted — a few days perhaps — she shimmies out of her tight suit of armor, exposing herself in all her soft, naked vulnerability. Summoning her strength (molting is an exhausting affair that leaves her limp as a strand of seaweed for nearly an hour), she raises her antennae to fondle her mate’s rostrum, the hornlike projection between his eyes. He reciprocates, his own antennae roaming eagerly over her body. Using his legs, he gently rolls her onto her back and deposits capsules of his sperm into a pocket on her abdomen.

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Virginia M. Wright is the senior writer at Down East.

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