July 20, 2010
Uncovering Behavior Of Long-Dead Insects
What can you learn from the 120 year-old body of a parasitoid wasp? Using material from museum collections, researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology report that they can tell how males wasps court their females, based on dead specimens.
Parasitoid wasps are one of the most abundant groups of organisms on the planet. Their diversity makes it very hard to study behaviors across many species. Seraina Klopfstein from the Natural History Museum of Bern, Switzerland, and co-workers have shown that males of many species coil their antennae around those of their mates, either once or in a more complex double coil. This peculiar courtship behavior is determined by antennal structures that bring male antennal glands into intimate contact with the female's receptors. The coiling behavior has evolved slowly and, where lost, has never re-evolved.
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