Love, the world around

Gearing up for Valentine’s Day?

Don’t let it make you sick. A report in the Psychologist magazine (the official publication of the British Psychological Society) argues that mental health professionals should treat “love sickness” as a real, and potentially serious, psychological disorder.

Its symptoms include mania, depression and obsessive-compulsive behavior, all of which can, in bad circumstances, create people who cannot cope with the intensity of love, or who suffer on account of their love being unrequited.

Still willing to put your heart at risk? Many animals aren’t. Before romantic thoughts carry you away, check out nature’s least romantic species’— five real creatures that use decidedly alternative ways to mate and to avoid human-type romantic complications.

Love isn’t in the air in an Adelie penguin colony; it’s on the ground. That’s because Adelie penguins build stone platforms during courtship to protect their eggs. But some penguin females have a different strategy: they’re hookers.

After settling down with a mate, these females will approach other males and trade sex for stones. Sometimes, the female even leaves with her stone before the male gets to copulate. Either way, she picks up a stone from the male’s nest and moves it back to her mate’s.

You’ve probably heard of this one. After weeks of searching, a male mantis gets lucky. Yet just when the magic moment occurs, his lover reaches around and rips his head off for a snack. A myth, right?

Wrong. For several mantis species, that’s generally how love goes. Females need the nourishment to feed their young, and since they mate only once, the male no longer serves a reproductive purpose. The really strange thing is that males continue to copulate even after they surrender their heads.

Banana slugs don’t bother with flowers and chocolate. When they want to attract a mate, they secrete chemicals called pheromones. Common enough, but banana slugs blend theirs into an unusual aphrodisiac: slime.

The stuff is so enticing that after a slug follows it to find a mate, they have a slime feast. The slugs have another kink, too. They’re hermaphrodites, with both male and female reproductive organs. During copulation, each slug inseminates the other, and then both slither away to lay their eggs.

For the whiptail lizard, there’s a good reason why a good man is hard to find: there aren’t any. All whiptail lizards are female. They reproduce through an unusual process called parthenogenesis, or virgin birth.

All of their eggs are genetic duplicates, clones of the female. The lady lizards still have some romance, though. Two females will court to induce egg laying, taking turns playing “the male.”

If you’re into courting and classic beauty, you don’t want to be an angle fish. Living in the pitch black of the ocean deep, angle fish don’t have much use for good looks. And because finding a mate is so difficult in the abyss, mating pairs bond for life — literally.

The male, only a fraction of the size of the female, hooks onto her belly with his teeth and never lets go. His body joins with hers, slowly losing internal organs until he becomes little more than a sperm-producing parasite that she carries around for life.

Perch tournament

Just a quick reminder about the Pagosa Lakes Winter Perch Tournament this Saturday, Feb. 7.

You can save some money by purchasing tickets ahead of time at Eagle Mountain Mercantile, the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center or the Pagosa Lakes Administration Office. Pre-purchase tickets are $10; on tournament day at the lake tickets are $15.

All ticket revenue will be used for cash prizes for placing winners.

The forecast is calling for a slight chance of weather to come through, so be sure to dress warmly and in layers. The perch fishing has picked up a bit this past week so we are anticipating an exciting competition and a fun day out on the lake.

Remember that kids 16 and under fish for free and will compete in three different age brackets for prizes. No state license or PLPOA fishing permit is required for this event. We have had folks calling in from as far away as New Mexico, Durango and Cortez to double check the date and we are looking forward to a good turnout Saturday.