Scramble competition by males of the velvet ant Nemka viduata (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae)

Carlo Polidori, José Tormos, Amparo Beneitez, Josep Daniel Asís
2013 Behaviour  
The mating systems of mutillid wasps have rarely been studied. Here we present information on the mating system of Nemka viduata. At a site in southern Spain, many males of this species were seen flying over host (digger wasp) nest aggregations while searching for females. Male activity was greatest in the early morning and late afternoon, when females were more active searching for hosts, and on days when relatively large numbers of females were active. Males were not territorial but instead
more » ... orial but instead attempted to find emerging females before their competitors. As many as six males might arrive at a receptive female more or less simultaneously. Struggles to control access to females continued until one male copulated with the female on the ground or carried it off in flight to a location away from rival males. Male size seems to affect the patrolling behaviour (number of patrolled sites), but there is little evidence of an advantage for larger males, as expected in a scramble competition mating system. Scramble competition mating systems often evolve in species in which large numbers of males compete for scarce receptive females, a factor that makes male territorial defence of large areas highly costly.
doi:10.1163/1568539x-00003035 fatcat:o64ofpn6qbewbaoxk4kgwlwnn4