Partitioning the Components of Sexual Selection: Attractiveness and Agonistic Behaviour in Male Wax Moths, Achroia grisella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)


Department of Entomology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045 USA. E-mail:


Two components of sexual selection in the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella, are clearly defined: females choose males based on characters of their ultrasonic advertisement signals, and males display agonistic behaviour patterns in contests over signalling stations. We conducted a series of laboratory trials to determine whether successes in these two sexual selection arenas were related. Our trials showed that winners in contests over signalling stations were characterized by earlier initiation of both signalling and aggression. These characteristics may indicate higher levels of ‘motivation,’ but it is unclear whether this level is a fixed trait. There was no relationship, however, between any measure of a male's attractiveness to females and his success in winning competition trials. Thus, inter- and intra-sexual selection may be acting on different, uncorrelated traits in A. grisella.