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Female sex pheromone in immature insect males - a case of pre-emergence chemical mimicry?

Female sex pheromone in immature insect males - a case of pre-emergence chemical mimicry?

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology e; 58(2): 111-120

Sexual selection by competition for mates is a formidable force that has led to extraordinary adaptations in males. Here we present results suggesting a novel case of pheromone mimicry in males of Lariophagus distinguendus, a parasitic wasp of beetle larvae that develop in stored grain. Females of L. distinguendus produce a pheromone even before they emerge from a grain. Males are attracted to the parasitised grain and wait for females to emerge. Males emerging later than others are under enormous selection pressure since females mate only once. We show evidence that developing males fool their earlier emerging competitors by mimicking the female pheromone. Males exposed to pupae of either sex exhibit typical courtship behaviour. Searching males are not only arrested by grains containing developing females but spend as much time on grains containing developing males. Hence, by distracting their competitors away from receptive females late males may increase their own chance to mate with these females. After emergence, males decompose the active compounds within 32 h probably to decrease molestation during their own search for mates. Chemical analyses of active pheromone extracts and bioassays using fractions demonstrate that the active compounds are among the cuticular hydrocarbons.

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Accession: 004161539

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DOI: 10.2307/25063593

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