Precopulatory assessment of male quality in an arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix): hydroxydanaidal is the only criterion of choice

  title={Precopulatory assessment of male quality in an arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix): hydroxydanaidal is the only criterion of choice},
  author={Vikram K. Iyengar and Carmen Rossini and Thomas Eisner},
  journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology},
Abstract Females of the moth Utetheisa ornatrix (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) mate preferentially with males that excel in three quantitatively correlated attributes: body mass, systemic content of defensive pyrrolizidine alkaloid (derived from the larval diet), and glandular content of the courtship pheromone hydroxydanaidal (derived from the alkaloid). By so choosing, the females obtain direct phenotypic benefits (alkaloid and nutrient received with the spermatophore), and indirect genetic… 

Male courtship pheromones as indicators of genetic quality in an arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix)

Using chemical analyses, it is determined that the HD signal does not change based on mating history, thereby supporting the importance of HD in advertising a male’s genetic quality.

Female mate choice and modulation of oviposition preference in the moth Spodoptera littoralis

If larvae reared on host plants in the presence of the mosquito Aedes aegypti instead would avoid oviposition on the larval food plant, and the use of experience could be a way for generalist species to shorten decision time when presented with several host options.

Dietary alkaloids and the development of androconial organs in Estigmene acrea

The size of the coremata and their commensurate pheromonal charge may have behavioral consequences in the unusual mating system of this species.

Corematal function in Utetheisa ornatrix: interpretation in the light of data from field-collected males

Evidence presented here shows that field-collected males, which could be expected to be mostly non-virginal, are of reduced acceptability to females, explaining possibly why they should be held in lesser regard.

Female pheromonal chorusing in an arctiid moth, Utetheisa ornatrix

An unusual case of communal sexual display in the arctiid moth Utetheisa ornatrix is reported that is designated "female pheromonal chorusing", and it is argued that this biased sex ratio generates intrasexual competition among females, to which they respond by elevating signaling effort such that the likelihood of at least matching their neighbors' signals is increased.

Chemical Cues, Hibernation and Reproduction in Female Short-Beaked Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus setosus): Implications for Sexual Conflict

It is suggested the observed patterns of olfactory communication and mating behavior in this species are a product of interrelationships between environmental, physiological and demographic conditions.

Quantity matters: male sex pheromone signals mate quality in the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis

This work shows for Nasonia vitripennis, a parasitic wasp with haplodiploid sex determination and female-biased sex ratios, that females use olfactory cues to discriminate against sperm-limited males and suggests that N. vitrip Dennis females are able to decrease the risk of getting constrained to produce suboptimal offspring sex ratios by orienting towards gradients of the male sex pheromone.

Experience counts: females favor multiply mated males over chemically endowed virgins in a moth (Utetheisa ornatrix)

  • V. Iyengar
  • Biology
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2009
It is demonstrated that males with mating experience can secure copulations despite deficiencies in the pheromone, and possible mechanisms are provided and discussed to discuss their implications regarding sexual selection.

Male pheromone composition depends on larval but not adult diet in Heliconius melpomene

No evidence that adult pollen consumption affects pheromone production in the first ten days after eclosion is found, and strong overlap is found in the chemical profiles of individuals reared on different larval host plants.



The chemistry of sexual selection.

  • T. EisnerJ. Meinwald
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1995
The moth Utetheisa ornatrix (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) is protected against predation by pyrrolizidine alkaloids that it sequesters as a larva from its foodplants, and females reinforce after copulation the choice mechanism they already exercise during courtship.

Postcopulatory sexual selection in an arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix).

  • C. LaMunyonT. Eisner
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1993
Data are presented suggesting that the female herself may exert control over the process by which one set of sperm is utilized at the expense of the other in twice-mated female Utetheisa ornatrix.

Sexually transmitted chemical defense in a moth (Utetheisa ornatrix).

It is shown that the female herself derives protection from the gift of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and predicts that other instances will be found of female insects being rendered invulnerable by receipt of sexually transmitted chemicals.

Pheromonal advertisement of a nuptial gift by a male moth (Utetheisa ornatrix).

By mating preferentially with males endowed with hydroxydanaidal, females may ensure their acquisition of an alkaloidal gift for use in egg defense and communicate their possession of protective alkaloids and their capacity to provision the female.

Heritability of body mass, a sexually selected trait, in an arctiid moth (Utetheisa ornatrix).

  • V. IyengarT. Eisner
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1999
It is reported that body mass is heritable in both sexes, indicating that by choosing larger males females obtain genetic benefits for their offspring by exercising mate choice female Utetheisa.

Chemical defense against predation in an insect egg.

Each cluster in nature can be expected to range widely in palatability, so to check each cluster for acceptability must be adaptive for the larva, just as it must be adapted for Utetheisa to lay its eggs in large clusters and to apportion alkaloid evenly among eggs of a cluster.


  • M. Ryan
  • Biology, Psychology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1983
There is an important relation between sexual selection and communication, however, few studies have studied the effects of runaway sexual selection on sexual displays.

Biparental defensive endowment of eggs with acquired plant alkaloid in the moth Utetheisa ornatrix.

Field and laboratory tests showed that the alkaloids of Utetheisa ornatrix protect eggs from predators, and a previously identified pheromone, derived by the male from the alkAloid and emitted during precopulatory behavior, may announce the male alkaloidal worth to the female.