For cockroach couples in Asia, the best meal is often each other.

For cockroaches living inside rotten logs in Asia, nothing says ''I love you'' like some minor cannibalism. Newly mated pairs of one species, Salganea taiwanensis, takes turns chewing each other's wings down to stubs after they move into the homes where they will jointly raise babies.

Scientists say this behavior may have evolved because of the roaches' truly monogamous bond.

The Japanese researcher Haruka Osaki studies the activity by pairing 24 wings in stages. One bug would climb on the other's back and eat, while the other sat motionless. The roaches probably benefit, because wings are cumbersome in tight quarters, researchers said.

It's a sensible solution ''If you're not going to fly ever again,'' one scientist concluded.

At times, the cockroach being munched on gave a violent shudder, which seemed to encourage the muncher to take a break. But the insects otherwise didn't seem to mind the process.

Twelve of the couples ate each other's wings completely. [Elizabeth Preston]


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