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Field observations of visual attraction of three European oak buprestid beetles toward conspecific and heterospecific models


Michael J. Domingue, Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. E-mail:


Agrilus biguttatus Fabricius, Agrilus sulcicollis Lacordaire, and Agrilus angustulus Illiger (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) are three beetle species associated with oak trees [Quercus spp. (Fagaceae)] in Europe. In Hungary, all three species were observed in the foliage near freshly cut oak log piles. Agrilus biguttatus was active later in the afternoon, whereas the other species were observed earlier in the day. Dead female models of these three native Agrilus species, as well as the native species Agrilus cyanescens Ratzeburg and the non-native Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, were pinned onto adjacent leaves in direct sunlight to observe the visual mating approaches of the local male populations. Agrilus biguttatus and A. sulcicollis males flew toward and landed directly on the models from a distance of 1 m. Agrilus angustulus flew toward the models from a similar distance, but rather than landing directly on a model would alight on the leaf, 1–2 cm away, before walking closer to the model while antennating it. For all three species, there was substantial cross-attraction to models of other species. Both A. biguttatus and A. sulcicollis males chose A. angustulus models less often than their respective conspecific models. Likewise, A. angustulus males approached A. sulcicollis models less often than their normal conspecific models. Agrilus biguttatus males attempted to copulate with both A. biguttatus and A. planipennis models, afterward remaining with them for several minutes. Agrilus biguttatus males spent more time on A. planipennis models than on conspecific models. Thus, there is substantial cross-species attraction in visually mediated mating approaches and copulation behavior. These findings suggest a common behavioral template for visual mate-finding among buprestids and a large degree of close-range mating compatibility between A. biguttatus and A. planipennis.