Behavioral asymmetries in the mealybug parasitoid Anagyrus sp. near pseudococci: does lateralized antennal tapping predict male mating success?
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Lateralization is a fundamental principle of the brain organization widespread among vertebrates but rather unknown in invertebrates. Evidences of lateralized courtship and mating behavioral traits in parasitic wasps are extremely rare. Here, courtship and mating sequences and the presence of mating lateralization in Anagyrus sp. near pseudococci, one of the most effective biological control agents of mealybugs, were investigated. Courtship and mating behavior in A. sp. near pseudococci consisted in the male chasing of the female, pre-copula, copula, and post-copula phases. Males mating success was not related to the duration of chasing and pre-copula. High-speed videos showed population-level lateralization in A. sp. near pseudococci during courtship. Most the wasps used the right antenna to start antennal tapping and this led to a higher mating success, although lateralization had no impact on the frequency of the antennal tapping. Both females and males displayed this behavior. Higher mating success was detected when females displayed antennal tapping during sexual interaction, though male tapping was performed with a slightly higher frequency. To the best of our knowledge, this report on behavioral asymmetries of mating traits in A. sp. near pseudococci represents a quite rare evidence of lateralized behavior in parasitic wasps of economic importance. Our findings add basic knowledge on the behavioral ecology of this biocontrol agent with potential implications on the optimization of mass-rearing procedures aimed at using this parasitoid in Integrated Pest Management.
KeywordsAnagyrus sp. near pseudococci Biological control Courtship Encyrtidae High-speed video analysis
We are grateful to Andrea Sala (BioPlanet, Cesena, Italy) for providing the mass-reared parasitoids tested in this study. We would like to thank Alice Bono for her kind assistance during high-speed video recordings. Giovanni Benelli is funded by BIOCONVITO P.I.F. “Artigiani del Vino Toscano” (Regione Toscana, Italy). This study was partially supported by the H2020 Project “Submarine cultures perform long-term robotic exploration of unconventional environmental niches” (subCULTron) [640967FP7]. Funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All applicable international and national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.
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