Asymmetry and Mating Success in a Periodical Cicada, Magicicada septendecim (Hemiptera: Cicadidae)


John R. Cooley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, 75 North Eagleville Road, U-43, Storrs CT 06269, USA. E-mail:


Phenotypic symmetry results from both a genetic predisposition and the influence of the developmental environment. Although most studies of mate choice and phenotypic asymmetry are couched in terms of active choice for ‘good genes’, an alternative viewpoint is to consider incidental mating biases that arise from the functional effects of asymmetrical phenotypes. This paper (i) discusses the specific situations in which symmetry-based mate choice may be likely, and (ii) presents research on female mate choice and symmetry in the periodical cicada, Magicicada septendecim (L.). Male mating aggregations and lack of mating gifts or parental care make this species an ideal target for studying female choice for superior mates, and thus for a relationship between male symmetry and male mating success.