We examined behavioral mechanisms underlying aggregation and mate location in the red milkweed beetle, Tetraopes tetrophthalmus (Forster) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Larvae of this species feed on rhizomes of common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L., and adults feed on the flowers and foliage, aggregating on individual stems within milkweed patches. Adults preferred to aggregate on milkweeds that had multiple, large inflorescences. Males actively searched for females, often flying between host plants. Mate location did not appear to involve long-range pheromones or vision, but rather males landed on milkweed stems arbitrarily, whether or not females were present. Males remained for longer periods, and so tended to accumulate, on milk-weed stems that had female-biased sex ratios. We conclude that aggregation of T. tetrophthalmus is cued by host plant characteristics but dynamically influenced by the sex ratio of conspecifics present on individual stems.
- Asclepias syriaca
- Host plant quality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science