Anticipatory flexibility: larval population density in moths determines male investment in antennae, wings and testes
© Minden Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo
The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser moth, or Uraba lugens, has a competitive edge when it comes to the dating game — it can trade in its testes for a better sense of smell to sniff out potential mates.
A team led
by scientists from the University of Melbourne collected Uraba lugens eggs and grew them in containers at varied densities
The males surrounded
by a greater number of other larvae grew larger testes, the researchers discovered,
and those reared at a lower density had larger antennae as adults.
make sense – larger testes allow moths to fertilize more females when sperm competition
from other males is high. And when females are harder to find, males have to
better detect the pheromones of a potential mate, which they sense using their
The scientists propose that Uraba lugens sense the population around them when they are larvae,
allowing them to invest energy in the optimal traits for reproduction as they
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284, (2017). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2087
|The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia||0.67|
|Deakin University, Australia||0.33|