Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 341–349 | Cite as

Behavioral asymmetries in the mealybug parasitoid Anagyrus sp. near pseudococci: does lateralized antennal tapping predict male mating success?

  • Donato Romano
  • Giovanni BenelliEmail author
  • Cesare Stefanini
  • Nicolas Desneux
  • Ricardo Ramirez-Romero
  • Angelo Canale
  • Andrea Lucchi
Original Paper


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.


Anagyrus 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.

Ethical standards

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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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donato Romano
    • 1
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cesare Stefanini
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nicolas Desneux
    • 4
  • Ricardo Ramirez-Romero
    • 5
  • Angelo Canale
    • 2
  • Andrea Lucchi
    • 2
  1. 1.Sant’Anna School of Advanced StudiesThe BioRobotics InstitutePontederaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringKhalifa UniversityAbu DhabiUAE
  4. 4.INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, UMR 1355–7254, Institut Sophia AgrobiotechSophia AntipolisFrance
  5. 5.Department of AgronomyCUCBA, University of GuadalajaraZapopanMexico

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