from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A receptacle in the reproductive tracts of certain female invertebrates, especially insects, in which spermatozoa are received and stored until needed to fertilize the ova.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A small sac within the reproductive tract of some female invertebrates, such as insects, which stores sperm until it is used to fertilize the ova.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A small sac connected with the female reproductive organs of insects and many other invertebrates, serving to receive and retain the spermatozoa.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A spermatic case, capsule, or sheath; a receptacle for semen; specifically, the seminal receptacle in the female, as of various insects and other invertebrates, which receives and conveys or detains the sperm of the male. More correctly spermatotheca. See cuts under Dendrocœla, ovariole, and Rhabdocœla.
These spermatozoa, whose number Dr. Leuckart estimates at twenty-five millions, are preserved alive in a special gland known as the spermatheca, that is situate under the ovaries, at the entrance to the common oviduct.
But, the spermatheca is a "last in, first out" structure, thus if any further males inseminate a female, the last mate's sperm is the first in line to fertilise an egg.
I often confuse the 2 terms, spermatheca and spermatophore.
The spermatheca (also called the bursa copulatrix) is an organ that can't be exchanged, while a spermatophore is a packet of sperm that is given to a slug's (or a snail's) partner during mating and may or may not be stored in the spermatheca.
Her brain will be smaller, but she will possess enormous ovaries, and a special organ besides, the spermatheca, that will render her almost an hermaphrodite.
Others, again, believe that the queen has perfect control over the muscles that open and close the spermatheca on the vagina; and these muscles are certainly very numerous, complex, and powerful.
She retains only, in her spermatheca, the seminal liquid where millions of germs are floating, which, until her last day, will issue one by one, as the eggs pass by, and in the obscurity of her body accomplish the mysterious union of the male and female element, whence the worker-bees are born.
In the large cells this pressure would not take place, and the spermatheca would therefore not open.
It is imagined that the narrow aperture of the smaller cells, and the manner in which the form of this aperture compels the queen to bend forward, exercise a certain pressure upon the spermatheca, in consequence of which the spermatozoa spring forth and fecundate the egg as it passes.
In descending the oviduct to be deposited in the cells, they pass by the mouth of this seminal sac or spermatheca, and receive a portion of its fertilizing contents.