Mate location, antennal morphology, and ecology in two praying mantids (Insecta: Mantodea)

G. I. Holwell*, K. L. Barry, M. E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


The sensory systems employed by animals to locate potential mates are diverse. Among insects, chemical and acoustic signals are commonly used over long distances, with visual signals playing a role in close-range orientation and courtship. Within groups that exhibit a scramble competition mating system, selection on mate searching ability will be particularly strong. Clearly, aspects of the species ecology, such as habitat complexity and population density, will be crucial in the evolution of mate searching systems and sexual signals. Praying mantids exhibit both chemical and visual sexual signalling behaviour, and also vary in their ecology. This study employs scanning electron microscopy of antennal sensory morphology and behavioural assays to investigate the relative importance of chemical and visual signalling in two Australian praying mantid species: Pseudomantis albofimbriata and Ciulfina biseriata. As predicted, the high level of habitat complexity, low population density and strong male dispersal capability of P. albofimbriata corresponded to the use of airborne sex pheromones. Conversely, the open habitat, high population density, and poor dispersal of C. biseriata corresponded to a greater reliance on short-range visual cues for mate location.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


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