Competition Among Courting Male Moths: Male-to-Male Inhibitory Pheromone

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Science  10 Nov 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4368, pp. 644-645
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4368.644


The behavioral function of a pheromone released by males of the army-worm moth Pseudaletia unipuncta was investigated both in laboratory wind-tunnel experiments and in experiments with moth-baited traps in the field. Such male moth scents have been thought to act at close range as sexual stimulants for females of the same species. However, the only obvious effect of the P. unipuncta male pheromone was upon other males, decreasing their tendency to approach sexually receptive, pheromone-releasing females and to exhibit copulatory behavior when near those females. The adaptive significance of the male pheromone may be related to the increased reproductive efficiency that results if multiple males are prevented from competing for a single female.