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Spermatophore feeding and mating behaviour in praying mantids (Mantodea: Liturgusidae)


Greg I. Holwell, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde 2109, NSW, Australia. Fax: +61 2 98508245


In a number of insects, males transfer sperm to females via an externally attached spermatophore, which females subsequently remove and consume. Here I report the first study of spermatophore feeding in a praying mantid. While studies of praying mantid mating behaviour have largely focused on sexual cannibalism, this behaviour is not known in the genus Ciulfina. The general patterns of mating behaviour and spermatophore feeding are described for four species: Ciulfina rentzi, Ciulfina klassi, Ciulfina biseriata and Ciulfina baldersoni. Copulation duration and postcopulatory spermatophore attachment duration were found to vary both inter- and intraspecifically. Ciulfina rentzi exhibited a considerably longer mean copulation duration and a considerably shorter mean postcopulatory spermatophore attachment duration than the other Ciulfina species. Smaller males copulated for longer durations in C. rentzi and C. klassi. For C. baldersoni, both copulation duration and postcopulatory spermatophore attachment duration increased with female mass. The genus Ciulfina is highlighted as an intriguing new system in which to test hypotheses surrounding the function of spermatophore feeding and the significance of copulation duration.