Sexual behavior among parasitic Megarhyssa wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)

Summary

Male wasps of three sympatric species of Nearctic Megarhyssa (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) typically form mixed-species (61.7%) aggregations composed of up to 28 males over sites of female emergence. Observations of 107 aggregations over two seasons in New York state revealed two male mating strategies: postemergence copulation on the tree surface and preemergence insemination accomplished by male abdominal insertion into the female emergence hole. Insertions by one or more males (as many as ten consecutively but not more than two simultaneously) occurred at 88% of the aggregations, with each inserting for an average of 24.8 min. Insemination as a result of preemergence insertion had a success rate of 83% while postemergence copulation attempts were successful 30% of the time (average duration 61.9 s). Individual male reproductive success was very low and not correlated with size, arrival order at emergence sites, or tenacity at the site. Males frequently aggregated at sites of male emergences as well as those of nonconspecifics, though conspecifics to the emerger ultimately played the major role at aggregations. Male-male aggression in aggregations was not apparent, though jostling occurred during the insertion period and during postemergence copulation attempts.

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Correspondence to Owen S. Crankshaw.

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Crankshaw, O.S., Matthews, R.W. Sexual behavior among parasitic Megarhyssa wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 9, 1–7 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00299846

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Keywords

  • Success Rate
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Reproductive Success
  • Tree Surface
  • Average Duration