Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) consists of a species complex with various degrees of reproductive compatibility between biotypes. One mechanism known to result in reproductive isolation among sexually reproducing animals is mate recognition. Whiteflies have an elaborate courtship and mating behavior, and it is well known that individuals of some biotypes in the B. tabaci species complex will court individuals of other biotypes, but they will not mate. In this study, we determined specific courtship and mating behaviors of B. tabaci biotype B (Bemisia argentifolii Bellows & Perring). Four distinct phases in the courtship and mating cascade were identified, and we describe these phases and report their durations. We compared our findings with previously reported mating behaviors of two other whiteflies, B. tabaci biotype A, and Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood). These comparisons identified both similarities and differences in the behaviors of the three whiteflies, particularly in the extent and position of antennal drumming, male abdominal undulation, and wing and body position during copulation. Body pushing behavior, characterized for B. tabaci biotype A and T. vaporariorum, was not present for B. argentifolii. The similarities between whiteflies may represent evolutionarily conserved behaviors, resulting in courtships between reproductively incompatible whiteflies. Conversely, differences in behaviors may contribute to prezygotic reproductive isolation among biotypes. From our studies, we propose that the discrimination of signals sent and received from courting whiteflies becomes more intense with each successive phase in the courtship cascade.
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Vol. 99 • No. 3