Females tagged in wasp mating game

January 7, 2013

(Phys.org)—The flick of an antenna may be how a male wasp lays claim to his harem, according to new research at Simon Fraser University.

A team of , led by former PhD graduate student Kelly Ablard, found that when a male targeted a female, he would approach from her from the left side, and once in range, uses the tip of his antenna to tap her antenna.

Ablard suggests the act transfers a yet unidentified specimen-specific onto the female's antenna that marks the female as "out of bounds," or "tagged."

The tagging-pheromone helps a male relocate the females he tagged, and deters non-tagging males from approaching tagged females.

Males who tag females are much quicker courters than their competitors, and thus are likely in better condition physically, Ablard notes. "It is the first male to encounter a female that is likely perceived by females to be high-quality," she says. "Tagged females' of 'unfamiliar' males suggests that tagged females attain a fitness advantage."

The research, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, was carried out in a biology lab at SFU over the past several years.

Ablard, who defended her thesis in December and is set to receive her degree this spring, earlier studied olfactory communication in the slender and slow loris, a small nocturnal primate found in southern India and throughout , respectively.

Explore further: 'Paranoia' about rivals alters insect mating behavior

More information: Paper: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635712002501

Related Stories

'Paranoia' about rivals alters insect mating behavior

August 8, 2011

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that male fruitflies experience a type of 'paranoia' in the presence of another male, which doubles the length of time they mate with a female, despite the female of the ...

Female cowbirds prefer less intense male courtship displays

May 3, 2012

In most species, females prefer the most intense courtship display males can muster, but a new study finds that female cowbirds actually prefer less intense displays. The full results are published May 2 in the open access ...

Vision stimulates courtship calls in the grey tree frog

November 19, 2012

Male tree frogs like to 'see what they're getting' when they select females for mating, according to a new study by Dr. Michael Reichert from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the US. His work, which is one of the ...

Recommended for you

Ancient walnut forests linked to languages, trade routes

September 4, 2015

If Persian walnut trees could talk, they might tell of the numerous traders who moved along the Silk Roads' thousands of miles over thousands of years, carrying among their valuable merchandise the seeds that would turn into ...

Huddling rats behave as a 'super-organism'

September 3, 2015

Rodents huddle together when it is cold, they separate when it is warm, and at moderate temperatures they cycle between the warm center and the cold edges of the group. In a new study published in PLOS Computational Biology, ...

Fighting explosives pollution with plants

September 3, 2015

Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.