Tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (F.) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), females can copulate multiple times creating the possibility for sperm competition. We used a colony lacking wild pigmentation on the wings (albino-type) for an experiment in which females double mated. Females copulated 2 days apart with two, 2-day-old males, one albino-type and one wild-type, or in the opposite sequence. A third of the females produced offspring from the first mate, and this group was significantly biased toward producing albino-type compared to wild-type progeny. A fourth of the females produced offspring from the second male exclusively and within this group was a significant bias toward wild-type compared to albino-type progeny. Almost half of the females produced offspring sired in equal proportions by both males simultaneously or in alternated paternities throughout all the reproductive life. These results suggest that regardless of the order in which moths mated, wild-type sperm had potential superior competitiveness. Therefore, sperm precedence is not the main driving force behind the paternity allocation mechanism in this strain of tobacco budworm.
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