Mating clusters in the mosquito parasitic nematode, Strelkovimermis spiculatus

Limin Dong, Manar Sanad, Yi Wang, Yanli Xu, Muhammad S.M. Shamseldean, Randy Gaugler

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8 Scopus citations


Mating aggregations in the mosquito parasitic nematode, Strelkovimermis spiculatus, were investigated in the laboratory. Female postparasites, through their attraction of males and, remarkably, other females, drive the formation of mating clusters. Clusters may grow in size by merging with other individual or clusters. Female molting to the adult stage and reproductive success are enhanced in larger clusters. Male mating behavior is initiated when the female begins to molt to the adult stage by shedding dual juvenile cuticles posteriorly. Males coil their tail around the adult cuticle, migrating progressively along the female in intimate synchrony with the molting cuticle until the vulva is exposed and mating can occur. The first arriving male is assured of access to a virgin female, as his intermediate location between the vulva and subsequently arriving males blocks these competitors. Males deposit an adhesive gelatinous copulatory plug into and over the vulva before departing the female. Fecundity was greater in larger mating clusters, but this was a function of a greater rate of molting which is a prerequisite for mating. Males compete for virgin females by emerging and molting to the adult stage earlier than females. Mating aggregations have previously only been examined in snakes, but these studies have tended to be observational as snakes offer a challenging system for study. The relatively easy to culture and manipulate mermithid system may offer a model for experimental studies of male-male competition, protandry, copulatory plugs and female choice in mating clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Aggregation
  • Copulatory plug
  • Male-male competition
  • Mating cluster
  • Protandry
  • Strelkovimermis spiculatus


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