Male behavioural plasticity depends on maternal mating status in the two-spotted spider mite

Keiko Oku*, Tom P.G. van Den Beuken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In haplodiploid organisms including the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae), both unmated and mated females can produce male offspring. A previous study reported that males produced by unmated females (UM males) find pre-reproductive females more quickly than males produced by mated females (M males) in T. urticae. However, it remains unclear what factors cause the difference. We investigated effects of maternal mating status on mate-searching behaviour of their sons by changing the sons’ developmental environment. In T. urticae, the primary sex ratio of mated-female colonies is female-biased. For both UM and M males, half of individuals were reared with males to imitate unmated-female colonies, whereas the rest were reared with females to imitate mated-female colonies. In UM males, individuals that had developed with males found pre-reproductive females more quickly than those that had developed with females. However, such a difference was not observed in M males. This indicates that behavioural response to the developmental environment differs between UM and M males. It means that the behavioural plasticity depends on maternal mating status. When males were individually reared, however, there was no significant difference in the mate-searching behaviour between UM and M males, indicating that maternal mating status does not independently affect their sons’ mate-searching behaviour. This study showed that male mate-searching behaviour is changed by their developmental environment and maternal mating status. This behavioural plasticity depending on maternal mating status is the first reported in haplodiploid organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-327
JournalExperimental and Applied Acarology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Haplodiploid
  • Mate searching
  • Maternal mating status
  • Tetranychus urticae


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