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Mating Behavior

A population of Taeniopoda reticulata in the region of Boca del Drago on the island of Isla Colon in the Bocas Del Torro Archipelago of Panama: June 15 – July 31, 2004.

Copulation attempts often proceeded without any signaling or display from the male. A male would slowly approach a female, and if he entered the female’s line of vision, she would begin vigorously waving her large rear legs and brightly colored antennae. Such displays either caused the male to retreat or to attempt to mount. Females were always active when mounting was attempted, and they would kick at mounting males and move away from them if possible. After females were mounted they would contract their abdomens and/or perform a sharp “ticking” motion from side to side that often unseated the males. Usually when single males were in the vicinity of this dynamic behavior they would join in the skirmish, traveling as far as several feet to reach the mating pair even when a solitary female was present and/or in closer range.

Males approached females with waving antennae and a great deal of palp movement. The initial male would scramble to grasp a female’s pronotum with his front pair of legs, and once secured he would stretch his abdomen towards her genital vent. Some mating males would snap their wings—displaying the bright red coloring and making a loud sound—at the approach of other males. Competing males attempted to displace the current male by bodily pushing into copulatory position. Males would kick at one another and frequently they would both fall from the female, leaving her open to attack from additional males, and up to four males were documented on top of a single female. A female did not have to be present for a male to mount another male, and when this behavior occurred, males usually leapt off fairly quickly. However, once, after nightfall, a male was observed to stay astride another male for several hours.

Following genital contact, most females made a few additional leg stokes towards the genitalic coupling before subsiding for a period of time, after which they would begin struggling again. Females intermittently displayed agonistic behaviors such as directing ticking and/or kicking towards the mounted male, and I observed such behavior to precede all separations not caused by rival males. All observed separations appeared to be a result of rival male interference or a successful female aggressive interaction, and no males were ever seen to dismount without agonistic behavior.

The lubbers would not commence mating in captivity (a large tank with items similar to the natural environment). On one occasion, after several days of containment with no interaction, a male immediately attempted to mount the same female once released into the field. Males remained with females during the capture, travel, and placement into captivity.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Supplier: Phoebe Buguey


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