Melittobia digitata are small parasitic wasps. Their natural host is the prepupa of the organ pipe mud dauber wasp. However, M. digitata can use several different hosts for the development of their young. The sex ratio of M. digitata is female biased, with about 95% of the progeny females. Females typically mate with their siblings, but if a female remains uninseminated she can lay a small entirely male brood, and after they eclose mate normally with one of her sons. Males are usually the first to emerge, but new males continue to emerge throughout the period of brood emergence. It has been shown that males have a sex pheromone, which attracts unmated females for copulation.
Males often can be seen attacking other males, and these interactions can end in a fatality. This is evident in laboratory cultures of Melittobia, which often contain dead male body parts or injured males. During courtship, males are not known to send auditory signals, (Assem et al., 1982) but do emit a sex pheromone to attract females for mating purposes. If the male sex pheromone can attract females for mating purposes, might this male sex pheromone also attract other males? This study focuses on this question. As a corollary, we also hypothesized that larger males would be more likely to win a fight than would smaller males.
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