The gender of certain insects can be determined by the weather, and therefore influenced by climate change, according to new research. The authors believe this is the first study to show the effects of weather on insect gender.

From 2008 to 2010 Researchers captured newly hatched weevils (Curculio elephas) after they emerged from the soil. Weevil eggs are deposited in the ground, and must dig themselves out after hatching. The researchers noticed that fewer males emerged in years with longer summer droughts. In order to reach the surface, weevils need rain to soften the soil.

The researchers believe females are not as affected by longer summer droughts because they typically emerge later in the season.

The team says their findings help to underscore the importance of considering physical traits in animals when researching the effects of climate change.

Original research paper published in Royal Society Open Science on September 2, 2015.

Names and affiliations of selected author

Raul Bonal, Forest Research Group, INDEHESA, University of Extremadura, Plasencia, Spain