Swarming, Delayed Sexual Maturation of Males, and Mating Behavior of Fopius arisanus (Sonan) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

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Fopius arisanus is unusual among hymenopterous parasitoids in males having an obligatory premating period. We confirmed Hagen's (1953) view that sperm takes several days to migrate from the testes to the seminal vesicles. Males mated for the first time only 4 days after emergence, the time that sperm was first ever recorded in the seminal vesicles. In the field, we studied the sexual maturation of F. arisanus males in relation to their behavior. In general, sexually immature males were found in male-only swarms that persisted over several days in host tree canopies. Mature males were usually found in loose aggregations in the vegetation beneath host trees. Females entered these loose aggregations and were mated, whereas they were generally absent from swarms in the canopy. Swarming is therefore apparently not a primary component of the sexual communication system of the species. We describe, for the first time in F. arisanus, the behavioral sequence that accompanies the intersexual communication that leads to mating. Males probably release a volatile chemical that attracts females from a distance, but we have only circumstantial evidence for this. We also postulate that males may form aggregations to amplify the effects of this distance attractant. In the vicinity of males, females release a pheromone that attracts males, a process we demonstrated with female-baited sticky traps.

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