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Bull Entomol Res. 2009 Aug;99(4):401-13. doi: 10.1017/S0007485308006408. Epub 2008 Oct 24.

Reproductive strategy of the Nearctic leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus Ball (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae).

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  • 1University of Pisa, Department C.D.S.L., Section of Agricultural Entomology, Via S. Michele 2, 56124 Pisa, Italy.


Mating behaviour of Scaphoideus titanus Ball, the vector of the grapevine disease Flavescence dorée, was investigated in order to determine the role of substrate-borne vibrational signals in intra-specific communication and pair formation. Vibrational signals were recorded from grapevine leaves with a laser vibrometer. Signalling activity of single males changed throughout the day and the peak in activity was associated with twilight and early night when 'call and fly' behaviour was observed. Pair formation began with the spontaneous emission of male signals. The male calling signal consisted of a single series of pulses, partially accompanied with a 'rumble'. The male courtship phrase consisted of four consecutive sections characterized by two sound elements, pulse and 'buzz'. Female vibrational signals were emitted only in response to male signals. The female response was a single pulse that closely resembled male pulses and was inserted between pulses within the male signals. All recorded vibrational signals of S. titanus have a dominant frequency below 900 Hz. A unique feature of vibrational communication in S. titanus is well-developed intrasexual competition; males may use alternative tactics, in the form of disturbance signals, or silently approach duetting females (satellite behaviour). While the male-female duet appears to be essential for successful localization of females and copulation, it is also vulnerable to, and easily disrupted by, alternative tactics like masking.

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