Kiwi scientists have studied the bedroom behaviour of a parasitoid wasp to reveal its mating habits.
Cotesia urabae is a natural enemy of the eucalypt feeding pest Uraba lugens, an Australian moth whose larvae can cause severe damage to a range of Eucalyptus tree species.

Severe outbreaks of U. lugens have been reported in Western Australia, where more than 250,000 hectares have been affected.

Scientists say a similar outbreak in New Zealand could potentially devastate commercial plantations of Eucalyptus and cost the industry many millions of dollars.

Using a special Y-shaped olfactory tube, scientists from Plant and Food Research, B3 (Better Border Biosecurity), Scion and the University of Auckland investigated how odours emitted by both male and female wasps influenced attraction.

The tube presented the target wasp with a choice of odours emitted down the arms of the tube.

The researchers found that male wasps were overwhelmingly attracted to the odour of virgin females and not previously mated ones.

They also explored how male competition and body size affect mating outcomes.

"We discovered that mating success was more likely and the time taken for mating to commence was lower when two males were competing, as opposed to scenarios involving solitary or non-competing males," Plant and Food Research entomologist Dr Gonzalo Avila said."
We also found that the actual duration of mating was longer when two males had been competing for a female.