Sabina Avosani, Pietro Franceschi, Marco Ciolli, Vincenzo Verrastro, Valerio Mazzoni.
02 March 2021
The meadow spittlebug Philaenus spumarius, vector of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, relies on vibrational communication to accomplish mating: the female calls to establish a duet with a male. A deeper knowledge of the species’ reproductive biology and behaviour would provide useful information for developing control techniques based on principles of ‘biotremology’, which studies the vibrational behaviour of animals. Playback tests were conducted on single females and male–female pairs of P. spumarius from June to October 2018, and the features of the recorded calling signals were analysed using a wavelet decomposition. Dissections were performed on females to evaluate the relationship between calling activity and ovarioles development. From August onwards, females started to emit calling signals and to develop ovarioles. Female calling activity, duration of their chirps and their responsiveness to mating increased as the season progressed, and they were correlated with ovarioles’ development and presence of mature eggs. Hence, the ovarian maturation represents a key factor in association with the development of the sexual behaviour of P. spumarius females. Conversely, males produced advertisement signals soon after adult eclosion in May, but these signals were not involved in the pair formation process. Mating was achieved only when males produced courtship signals in response to female calling signals and established with them vibrational duets starting from August. Here, we provide new information regarding the P. spumarius’ ethology and hypothesize that potential mating disruption techniques should consider the insect physiology and be applied when both sexes are responsive to mating signals.
https://doi.org/10.1111/jen.12874 | via Journal of Applied Entomology