The Role of Antennae in Mate Recognition in Phoracantha semipunctata (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)

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The mating behavior of the eucalyptus longhorned borer Phoracantha semipunctata was studied to understand its mate recognition system. Bioassays were conducted to determine the existence of a cuticular chemical on its body surface and how individuals perceived it. Males walked oriented to and attempted copulation with live conspecifics only upon antennal contact with their bodies. They showed similar responses to intact dead females and males, but failed to respond to washed bodies. Dummies carrying male extracts were more likely to elicit copulation attempts than control dummies. This constitutes behavioral evidence that unidentified chemical(s) on the body surface play a major role in mate recognition, and can only be perceived after antennal contact. Sensilla trichodea on the antennal flagellum are candidates for this contact chemoreception. They are distributed throughout the entire flagellum, especially along its margins and at the tip of the distal flagellomere, and share structural features with contact chemosensory sensilla of other insects.

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