Courtship Behavior

Courtship often involves an elaborate, highly ritualized sequence of stimulus and response actions that must be completed before copulation occurs (Fig. 4.6). This provides an important mechanism that identifies species and sex, thereby enhancing reproductive isolation. Color patterns, odors, and tactile stimuli are important aspects of courtship. For many species, ultraviolet patterns are revealed, close-range pheromones are emitted, or legs or mouthparts stroke the mate as necessary stimuli (L. Brower et al. 1965, Matthews and Matthews 1978).

Another important function of courtship displays in predatory insects is appeasement, or inhibition of predatory responses, especially of females. Nuptial feeding occurs in several insect groups, particularly the Mecoptera, empidid flies, and some Hymenoptera and Heteroptera (Fig. 4.7).The male provides a food gift (such as a prey item, nectar, seed, or glandular product) that serves at least two functions (Matthews and Matthews 1978, Price 1997,Thornhill 1976). Males with food may be more conspicuous to females, and feeding the female prior to ovipo-sition may increase fecundity and fitness. Nuptial feeding has become ritualistic in some insects. Rather than prey, some flies simply offer a silk packet.

Conner et al. (2000) reported that male arctiid moths, Cosmosoma myradora, acquire pyrrolizidine alkaloids from excrescent fluids of some plants, such as Eupatorium capillifolium. The alkaloids are incorporated into cuticular filaments that are stored in abdominal pouches and discharged on the female during courtship. This topical application makes the female distasteful to spiders. Alkaloid-deprived males do not provide this protection, and females mated with such males are suitable prey for spiders.

Courtship of the Queen Butterfly

Female Behavior Male Behavior

Appears

Flies

Alights on herbage

Folds wings

Acquiesces

Courtship of the Queen Butterfly

Female Behavior Male Behavior

Flies

Alights on herbage

Folds wings

Acquiesces

Moths Courtship Behavior

Pursues in air

Overtakes and hairpencils

Hairpencils while hovering

Hairpencils while hovering

Copulates

Post-nuptial flight

Pursues in air

Overtakes and hairpencils

Hairpencils while hovering

Hairpencils while hovering

Copulates

Post-nuptial flight

Courtship stimulus-response sequence of the Queen butterfly from top to bottom, with male behavior on the right and female behavior on the left. From L. Brower et al. (1965) with permission of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Males of some flies, euglossine bees, Asian fireflies, and some dragonflies gather in groups, called leks, to attract and court females (Fig. 4.7). Such aggregations allow females to compare and choose among potential mates and facilitate mate selection.

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Responses

  • murdo
    What is courtship in plant?
    6 years ago

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