Observations on the mating behavior of the alfalfa blotch leafminer, Agromyza frontella (Rondani) (Diptera: Agromyzidae), and evidence of a female sex pheromone

Yves Carrière, Jeremy N. McNeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The mating behavior of Agromyza frontella was studied under laboratory conditions. Adults were able to mate on the day of emergence, with no evident periodicity throughout the photophase. The host plant was essential for mating to occur, its presence affecting female receptivity rather than male copulatory behavior. Males generally entered a stationary phase once in the proximity of a female, before undertaking a final approach. This stationary behavior frequently resulted in male aggregations around a female, and under such conditions males exhibited a characteristic wing vibrating behavior. As male wing vibration was not an essential behavior for successful mating, and rarely occurred during male encounters in the absence of females or when only one male was near a female, it was considered as being primarily a male-male signal. The majority of females that mated exhibited an ovipositor pumping behavior that stimulated the male approach. However, such behavior was not essential to attract mates, as dead females elicited the entire sequence of male mating behavior. This suggested the presence of a cuticular sex pheromone, as reported for other species of higher Diptera. Whole virgin female (<24- h or 3- day-old) hexane extracts applied to male cadavers increased the time males spent on the plant, the number of contacts with the treated cadavers, the incidence of attempted copulations, and the wing vibrating behavior between males compared with controls using untreated cadavers. The results obtained indicate that females control copulation in A. frontella and that both semiochemical and visual cues are important in eliciting male mating behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-307
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1988


  • Agromyza frontella
  • Alfalfa blotch leafminer
  • courtship
  • mating behavior
  • sex pheromone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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