Applied Entomology and Zoology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 87–93 | Cite as

Ultrasonic courtship song of the yellow peach moth, Conogethes punctiferalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae)

  • Ryo NakanoEmail author
  • Takuma Takanashi
  • Fumio Ihara
  • Koji Mishiro
  • Masatoshi Toyama
  • Yukio Ishikawa
Original Research Paper


Although generation of ultrasound during courtship has been reported for an increasing number of moth species, the effect of the ultrasound on mating remains uncertain in many cases because of a lack of proper verification. Here we report that males of the yellow peach moth Conogethes punctiferalis (Crambidae) sexually communicate with females by emitting loud ultrasound (103 dB peak equivalent sound pressure level at 1 cm; dominant frequency 82 kHz) before attempting copulation. The male ultrasound consists of consecutive clicks (pulses) in the early phase of the sound train and consecutive pulses (burst) in the late phase. When females were deafened by puncturing the abdominal tympanic membranes, copulation never occurred. We found that deafened females did not assume the wing-raising posture, which, for normal pairs, always precedes successful copulation. Our findings indicate that male courtship ultrasound evokes wing-raising as an acceptance behavior from females, which in turn evokes a copulation attempt by a male.


Acoustic communication Courtship song Mate acceptance Ultrasound Yellow peach moth 



We thank N. Yanagida (NARO Institute of Fruit Tree Science) for rearing insects, and S. Komazaki and I. Adachi (NARO Institute of Fruit Tree Science) for helpful comments on this study. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (R.N., #23780053), and a research grant from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (T.T., R.N., Y.I.). We would like to dedicate this paper to the memory of Professor Dr Elisabeth K.V. Kalko, 1962–2011 (University of Ulm; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), who made a great contribution to understanding of echolocation behavior in many insectivorous bat species.

Supplementary material

ESM 1 Courtship behavior of C. punctiferalis. The male courtship ultrasound is converted into audible sound by use of an ultrasound detector. The first video clip is played at the original speed, and the second clip at slow speed (× 0.125). After emitting ultrasound, the male landed near the female that raised her wings, and subsequently copulated with her. (MPG 2960 kb)


  1. Alcock J, Gwynne DT, Dadour IR (1989) Acoustic signalling, territoriality and mating in whistling moths, Hecatesia thyridion (Agaristidae). J Insect Behav 2:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ando T, Inomata S, Yamamoto M (2004) Lepidopteran sex pheromones. Top Curr Chem 239:51–96PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barber JR, Conner WE (2006) Tiger moth responses to a simulated bat attack: timing and duty cycle. J Exp Biol 209:2637–2650PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blest AD, Collett TS, Pye JD (1963) The generation of ultrasonic signals by a New World arctiid moth. Proc R Soc Lond B 158:196–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boyan GS, Miller LA (1991) Parallel processing of afferent input by identified interneurones in the auditory pathway of the noctuid moth Noctua pronuba (L.). J Comp Physiol A 168:727–738PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Conner WE (1987) Ultrasound: its role in the courtship of the arctiid moth, Cycnia tenera. Experientia 43:1029–1031CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conner WE (1999) ‘Un chant d’appel amoureux’: acoustic communication in moths. J Exp Biol 202:1711–1723PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Greenfield MD (2002) Signalers and receivers. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Heller K-G, Achmann R (1993) The ultrasonic song of the moth Amyna natalis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Acontiinae). Bioacoustics 5:89–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heller K-G, Krahe R (1994) Sound production and hearing in the pyralid moth Symmoracma minoralis. J Exp Biol 187:101–111PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Kaneko J (1978) Abdominal constriction in the copulated female of yellow peach moth, Dichocrocis punctiferalis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Appl Entomol Zool 13:131–133Google Scholar
  12. Kimura T, Honda H (1999) Identification and possible functions of the hairpencil scent of the yellow peach moth, Conogethes punctiferalis (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Appl Entomol Zool 34:147–153Google Scholar
  13. Kimura T, Honda H (2002) Microstructure and pheromone producing function of male hair-pencils in the yellow peach moth, Conogethes punctiferalis (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Entomol Sci 5:237–247Google Scholar
  14. Konno Y (1986) Time-lag between sex pheromone content and the calling behavior in the yellow peach moth, Conogethes punctiferalis (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Appl Entomol Zool 21:622–624Google Scholar
  15. Konno Y, Honda H, Matsumoto Y (1980) Observations on the mating behavior and bioassay for the sex pheromone of the yellow peach moth, Dichocrocis punctiferalis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Appl Entomol Zool 15:321–327Google Scholar
  16. Konno Y, Arai K, Sekiguchi K, Matsumoto Y (1982) (E)-10-Hexadecenal, a sex pheromone component of the yellow peach moth, Dichocrocis punctiferalis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae. Appl Entomol Zool 17:207–217Google Scholar
  17. Miller LA, Surlykke A (2001) How some insects detect and avoid being eaten by bats: tactics and countertactics of prey and predator. BioScience 51:570–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Minet J, Surlykke A (2003) Auditory and sound producing organs. In: Kristensen NP (ed) Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies: morphology and physiology, vol 2. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 289–323Google Scholar
  19. Nakano R, Ishikawa Y, Tatsuki S, Surlykke A, Skals N, Takanashi T (2006) Ultrasonic courtship song in the Asian corn borer moth, Ostrinia furnacalis. Naturwissenschaften 93:292–296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Nakano R, Skals N, Takanashi T, Surlykke A, Koike T, Yoshida K, Maruyama H, Tatsuki S, Ishikawa Y (2008) Moths produce extremely quiet ultrasonic courtship songs by rubbing specialized scales. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:11812–11817PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nakano R, Takanashi T, Fujii T, Skals N, Surlykke A, Ishikawa Y (2009) Moths are not silent, but whisper ultrasonic courtship songs. J Exp Biol 212:4072–4078PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nakano R, Takanashi T, Skals N, Surlykke A, Ishikawa Y (2010a) To females of a noctuid moth, male courtship songs are nothing more than bat echolocation calls. Biol Lett 6:582–584PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nakano R, Takanashi T, Skals N, Surlykke A, Ishikawa Y (2010b) Ultrasonic courtship songs of male Asian corn borer moths assist copulation attempts by making the females motionless. Physiol Entomol 35:76–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna.
  25. Roeder KD (1998) Nerve cells and insect behavior. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Sanderford MV, Conner WE (1995) Acoustic courtship communication in Syntomeida epilais Wlk. (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae, Ctenuchinae). J Insect Behav 8:19–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sanderford MV, Coro F, Conner WE (1998) Courtship behavior in Empyreuma affinis Roths. (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae, Ctenuchinae): acoustic signals and tympanic organ response. Naturwissenschaften 85:82–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Simmons RB, Conner WE (1996) Ultrasonic signals in the defense and courtship of Euchaetes egle Drury and E. bolteri Stretch (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). J Insect Behav 9:909–919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Skals N, Surlykke A (1999) Sound production by abdominal tymbal organs in two moth species: the green silver-line and the scarce silver-line (Noctuoidea: Nolidae: Chloephorinae). J Exp Biol 202:2937–2949PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Spangler HG (1988) Moth hearing, defense and communication. Annu Rev Entomol 33:59–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stapells DR, Picton TW, Smith AD (1982) Normal hearing thresholds for clicks. J Acoust Soc Am 72:74–79PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Surlykke A, Gogala M (1986) Stridulation and hearing in the noctuid moth Thecophora fovea (Tr.). J Comp Physiol A 159:267–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Surlykke A, Næsbye O, Michelsen A (1988) Temporal coding in the auditory receptor of the moth ear. J Comp Physiol A 162:367–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Takanashi T, Nakano R, Surlykke A, Tatsuta H, Tabata J, Ishikawa Y, Skals N (2010) Variation in courtship ultrasounds of three Ostrinia moths with different sex pheromones. PLoS ONE 5:e13144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tian B, Schnitzler H-U (1997) Echolocation signals of the Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) in transfer flight and during landing. J Acoust Soc Am 101:2347–2364PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Verhoeven KJF, Simonsen KL, McIntyre LM (2005) Implementing false discovery rate control: increasing your power. Oikos 108:643–647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yack JE (2004) The structure and function of auditory chordotonal organs in insects. Microsc Res Tech 63:315–337PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yoshiyuki M (1989) A systematic study of the Japanese Chiroptera. Natl Sci Mus Monogr 7:1–242Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryo Nakano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Takuma Takanashi
    • 2
  • Fumio Ihara
    • 1
  • Koji Mishiro
    • 1
  • Masatoshi Toyama
    • 1
  • Yukio Ishikawa
    • 3
  1. 1.Breeding and Pest Management DivisionNARO Institute of Fruit Tree ScienceTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Forest EntomologyForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations