J. HYM. RES. Vol. 7(1), 1998, pp. 74-83 Territoriality and Mating Behavior of Sphex pensylvanicus L. (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) Frank E. Kurczewski Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York 13210-2778, USA Abstract. — Daily observations were made on nine individually marked males of Sphex pensyl-vanicus in upstate New York during 25 July-8 August 1982. Males occupied territories on or near a grate atop a storm sewer drain in which 12 females nested. They obtained honeydew at a maple tree and slept and fed on white sweet clover growing on a nearby hillside. The following main-tenance and reproductive activities of males were defined: (1) perching at stations, (2) swivelling, (3) cleaning, (4) wing raising, (5) defecating, (6) spontaneous flights, (7) feeding flights, (8) pounc-ing on conspecific males, (9) pursuit flights, (10) grappling, (11) trailing conspecific females, (12) clasping conspecific females, and (13) copulation. Aggressive interactions between territorial con-specific males occupied more time than all other maintenance and reproductive activities com-bined. Almost nothing was known about the behavior of male solitary wasps until Lin's (1963) study of male territoriality in Splie-cius speciosus (Drury), the cicada killer. Re-cent interest in male behavior surfaced fol-lowing the revival of Darwin's (1859) sex-ual selection theory, especially as cham-pioned by Trivers (1972) and his contemporaries. The activities of male sol-itary wasps are primarily aimed at obtain-ing matings. Males feed on nectar, rest on plants or in burrows, or bask in the sun when not in pursuit of females (Evans and O'Neill 1988). Males of most species of Sphecidae are free from parental duties and their reproductive success is solely determined by the number of eggs they fertilize. In other words, males of most species contribute little more than genes to their offspring. Male solitary wasps tend to emerge be-fore the females, a phenomenon known as protandry (Evans 1966). Circumstantial evidence suggests that females of most digger wasps mate only once during their lifetime (Alcock et al. 1978). Although nesting may extend for several weeks in certain species of Sphecidae (Hager and Kurczewski 1986, Kurczewski 1997), cop-ulations in most species take place only during the first week or two. The majority of contacts between males and females do not end in successful copulation (O'Neill 1979). Once females are actively nesting, they rebuff all attempted matings by males (Evans and O'Neill 1988). The rela-tive low fecundity of the females may mean that they actually gain little from additional matings (O'Neill 1985). Alcock et al. (1978) address the costs and benefits associated with multiple matings in spe-cies of aculeate Hymenoptera. Territoriality, as defined by spacing, maintenance of stations, and aggressive encounters between conspecific males, does not occur in all sphecid wasps (Hag-er and Kurczewski 1985). But, it can be ex-aggerated in some species (Minkiewicz 1934, Lin 1963, Evans and O'Neill 1988). Males may establish stations or territories near prominent landmarks on the ground (Astata, Minkiewicz 1934; Tachysphex, Kur-



Territoriality and Mating Behavior of Sphex pensylvanicus L (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae)

F E Kurczewski
Journal of Hymenoptera Research 7: 74-83 (1998)

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