Cuticular hydrocarbons and their role in copulatory behavior in Phormia regina (Meigen)

John G. Stoffolano, Eric Schauber, Chih Ming Yin, Julie A. Tillman, Gary J. Blomquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cuticular hydrocarbons from adult Phormia regina (Meigen) were characterized by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Both sexes had similar components in nearly identical quantities, consisting of complex mixtures of saturated n-, monomethyl- and dimethylalkanes from 23 to 33 total carbons. Although no diet-, age-, or sex-specific differences were observed, cuticular hydrocarbons were shown to be involved in copulatory behavior. Hydrocarbon profiles of wild, compared to laboratory reared flies, showed no major differences. Behaviorally, males responded the same to dead decoys of either sex. Removal of the hydrocarbons, using hexane, from either male or female decoys, did not affect the number of mating strikes, but markedly reduced the number of copulatory attempts and the amount of time males spent mounted on either decoy. House fly, Musca domestica L., males when paired with a female M. domestica decoy produced copulatory attempts: whereas, when P. regina males were placed with M. domestica female decoys, there were no copulatory attempts. It is concluded that the cuticular hydrocarbons of P. regina function as species-specific but not sex-specific mating cues and elicit species-specific copulatory behavior in males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1076
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Blow fly
  • Contact pheromone
  • Copulatory behavior
  • Cuticular hydrocarbons
  • Dipteran
  • Species-specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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