Female pheromones were examined in two species of praying mantids: Stagmomantis limbata Hahn and the Chinese mantid, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis Saussure. As in other mantids, females of both of these species are poor flyers or flightless, whereas males are flight-capable. Yet, they differ in ecology and biogeography, with the study population of S. limbata (native to Nearctic region) occurring at low density in desert habitat, and the study population of T. aridifolia sinensis (native to Indomalaya region) occurring at high density in humid woodlands. For both species, we designed field experiments to allow for the attraction of males via chemical signals while controlling for visual cues. Both species show evidence of female-emitted pheromones. In S. limbata, females in covered field cages attracted males, whereas large insects (cockroaches) in covered cages and covered empty cages failed to attract any males. In a second experiment with S. limbata, males were preferentially attracted to well-fed females over poorly-fed females, suggesting that pheromone emission is an “honest” signal of female receptivity in this species. Male arrivals in S. limbata were significantly clustered in the first few hours after sunrise. In T. aridifolia sinensis, covered females (female chemical cues) attracted more males than paired covered controls (empty), and attracted more males than uncovered conspecific males (male chemical and visual cues). Females in uncovered cages (female chemical and visual cues) attracted more males than covered females and more than uncovered controls (empty). This last result highlights the dual importance of chemical and visual information in mantid mating behavior. Female-emitted pheromones are certainly important in long-distance attraction in mantids, whereas visual cues and signals become important at shorter range.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1