Male megacyllene robiniae (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) use multiple tactics when aggressively competing for mates

Ann M. Ray, Matthew D. Ginzel, Lawrence M. Hanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adult male Megacyllene robiniae (Forster) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) that are paired with a female often are challenged by conspecific males that attempt to displace them. In staged laboratory bouts, challenging males used seven distinct tactics to displace defending males, including wedging their head between the defender and the female (termed wedging), straddling the mated pair and pulling the defender off (prying), pulling it with the mandibles, batting it with the antennae, or pushing, biting, or kicking the defender. Individual challengers attempted as many as six different tactics in a single bout, repeating certain tactics multiple times. They often attempted tactics that were not very effective. For example, prying was one of the most common attempted tactics but was rarely effective. However, few challengers attempted to push defenders off the female, even though that tactic often was effective. Challengers apparently were influenced by context in their choice of particular tactics. For example, males that approached the mated pair from the side were likely to use wedging, whereas those approaching head on were more likely to bat with the antennae. Choice of tactic apparently was not influenced by absolute size of challengers, nor was it strongly influenced by relative size of defenders. However, the effectiveness of tactics varied significantly with relative body size: larger challengers were most successful when prying or pushing, while smaller challengers were most successful when biting and kicking. By using different tactics, relatively small males were as adept as larger males at displacing rivals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-432
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Aggression
  • Interspecific competition
  • Longhorned beetle
  • Mating behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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