Fatal attraction: sexually cannibalistic invaders attract naive native mantids

Murray P. Fea, Margaret C. Stanley, Gregory I. Holwell

Abstract

Overlap in the form of sexual signals such as pheromones raises the possibility of reproductive interference by invasive species on similar, yet naive native species. Here, we test the potential for reproductive interference through heterospecific mate attraction and subsequent predation of males by females of a sexually cannibalistic invasive praying mantis. Miomantis caffra is invasive in New Zealand, where it is widely considered to be displacing the only native mantis species, Orthodera novaezealandiae, and yet mechanisms behind this displacement are unknown. We demonstrate that native males are more attracted to the chemical cues of introduced females than those of conspecific females. Heterospecific pairings also resulted in a high degree of mortality for native males. This provides evidence for a mechanism behind displacement that has until now been undetected and highlights the potential for reproductive interference to greatly influence the impact of an invasive species.

  • Received August 26, 2013.
  • Accepted November 3, 2013.
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