Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 22–33 | Cite as

Mating Behavior in the Alpine Tiger Moth, Metacrias huttoni

  • T. C. HawesEmail author


The alpine Tiger moth, Metacrias huttoni, of South Island, New Zealand, has adapted to female microptery through unusual courting behavior and behavioral plasticity with regard to copulation position. Courting revolves around male manipulation (‘fluffing’) of the female’s highly derived covering of flocculent setae. This was found to be not only necessary to cue female receptivity, but was also shown to stimulate oviposition. Both freshly pupated (24 h after eclosion) and mature (1 wk after eclosion) virgin females showed significantly greater oviposition after artificial grooming. The standard back-to-back copulatory position of winged moths was replaced in 86% of matings with alternative positions. The structure and functional significance of female setae is examined. A preliminary hypothesis for the origin of the moths’ mating behavior is outlined.


Microptery wing reduction insect flightlessness mating behavior 



Research funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Special thanks to D.A. Wharton, Kim Garrett, Matthew Downes and Brian Patrick.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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