In many taxa, females signal during courtship when they are receptive. However, just because a female signals does not mean that the male responds to the signal. This study examines female signaling of receptivity (readiness to copulate) and male response in the parasitoid wasp Spalangia endius Walker. Females folded their antennae against their heads when they were receptive, and antennal folding has been shown to be effective in eliciting male copulation attempts in a confamilial. However, male S. endius did not respond to antennal folding: males did not contact the female’s antennae during courtship, and how quickly a male attempted copulation was independent of whether or not the female had antennae. Males courted from on top of the female’s abdomen and appeared to detect receptivity directly from the female’s abdomen rising as her genital orifice opened. On females whose abdomens did not rise, initiation of male copulation attempts were delayed but not eliminated. Based on its current lack of function as a receptivity signal and on comparisons to published reports of mating behavior in confamilials, we hypothesize that female antennal folding at receptivity is a vestigial trait in S. endius.
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