A Sound Location

Cricket

Cricket

Males of a cricket species, Teleogryllus oceanicus, that was introduced to several Hawaiian Islands in the 1990s suffer from high rates of parasitism by a fly Ormia ochracea. The male crickets have a mate attractant song that they use to attract females at long distance and a short range courtship song. The songs also attract the parasitoid fly. Today, most of the males on the island of Kauai are silent “flatwings” that produce neither the attractant song nor the courtship song, they are silent.

How do the silent flatwing males mate if they cannot attract females with calls? The flatwing males are attracted to the sound of calling males. In experiments with recorded sound*, the flatwing males can be found closer to the speaker in larger numbers than normal males. This suggests that the flatwing males are locating near enough to calling males a location that attracts female crickets. Female crickets orienting to a calling male may find a flatwing male first and mate. Apparently females in this species will mate without hearing the close range courtship song.

*Marlene Zuk, John T. Rotenberry and Robin M. Tinghitella. 2006. Silent night: adaptive disappearance of a sexual signal in a parasitized population of field crickets. Biol. Lett. (2006) 2, 521–524
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0539

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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