Nocturnal Calling Behavior in Mantids
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Females of Mantis religiosa and Empusa pennata were video taped for several 24 h periods to determine if they showed behaviors associated with pheromone release. In the photophase the abdomen of both species was motionless and rested in continuous contact with the wings. However, at the beginning of the scotophase the females bent the abdomen ventrally so that the space between the abdomen and the wings increased significantly with respect to the daytime posture. Calling behavior (abdominal bending) was maintained throughout the 8 h scotophase and ended abruptly at lights on. Females of M. religiosa did not start calling until they were 30 days of age. Calling disappeared in mated females, but it reappeared two weeks later. Males stayed motionless in response to the odors emitted by other males or by noncalling females, but walked when a calling female was placed in the air flow. These observations suggest that female mantids bend their abdomens at night to release a sex pheromone. The adaptive function of nocturnal sex pheromone release in sexually cannibalistic species that rely strongly on visual cues for mating is discussed.
KeywordsMantis religiosa Empusa pennata sex pheromone periodicity cannibalism
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