Ultrasonic courtship song in the Asian corn borer moth, Ostrinia furnacalis


Although sex pheromone communication in the genus Ostrinia (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) has been studied intensively, acoustic communication in this genus has not been explored. In this study, we report that male-produced ultrasound serves as a courtship song in the Asian corn borer moth, O. furnacalis. Upon landing close to a pheromone-releasing female, a male showed a series of courtship behaviors involving emission of ultrasound. The sounds were produced when the wings were vibrated quickly in an upright position. The male song was composed of chirps, i.e., groups of pulses (duration of a chirp = 58.9 ms, 8.8 pulses/chirp), with a broadband frequency of 25–100 kHz. In flight tunnel experiments, deaf and hearing females showed a significant difference in the incidence of three behavioral responses to courting males, i.e., immediate acceptance, acceptance after walking, and rejection. Deaf females showed more ‘rejection’ and less ‘acceptance after walking’ than hearing females, indicating that the detection of male-produced ultrasound plays an important role in the acceptance of a male. The findings are discussed in the context of exploitation of receiver bias and mate choice.

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We thank Sugihiko Hoshizaki and four anonymous reviewers for the comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research No. 16208005 from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and by the Danish Research Agency. The experiments comply with the current laws in Japan and Denmark where they were performed.

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Correspondence to Yukio Ishikawa.

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Nakano, R., Ishikawa, Y., Tatsuki, S. et al. Ultrasonic courtship song in the Asian corn borer moth, Ostrinia furnacalis . Naturwissenschaften 93, 292–296 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-006-0100-7

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  • Virgin Female
  • Courtship Song
  • Chirp Rate
  • Tetradecenyl Acetate
  • Flight Tunnel