Variation in the number of sperm transferred during mating among males of the Colorado potato beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

M. G. Radtke, R. L. Rutowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We suggest an explanation for the bimodal distribution in the number of sperm transferred into the female during mating by males of the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata). While in most matings females receive 20,000 sperm, in others they receive less than 1000. A variety of potential proximate causes for this bimodal distribution including experimental procedures and several physiological and behavioral causes were examined: male body size, female body size, male mating history, socio-sexual environments, duration and number of mounts, and duration and number of copulations. Surprisingly, none of these explained the observed distribution. However, we did find that the total time spent in copulation was significantly less variable among males that transferred more than 20,000 sperm than among males that passed less than 1000 sperm. In addition, males transferring large amounts of sperm resulted in proportionally more sperm inside the female's spermatheca within a short period of time than males passing less than 1000 sperm. The lack of pattern in male sperm ejaculate suggests definite differences in sperm delivery tactics and may be related to the female condition rather than the male.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1092
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Bimodal
  • Colorado potato beetle
  • Mating behavior
  • Sperm
  • Sperm distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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