Mating frequency, fecundity and fertilization success in the hide beetle, Dermestes Maculatus

Therésa M. Jones, Kathryn B. McNamara, Paul G.R. Colvin, Rebecca Featherston, Mark A. Elgar

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26 Citations (Scopus)


While the immediate benefits accrued to females through multiple mating are well documented, the effect of sperm depletion for multiply mating males is rarely considered. We show that, in small mixed-sex laboratory aggregations, both male and female hide beetles, Dermestes maculatus (De Geer) mated multiply. There was considerable variation in the mating frequency of both sexes; however the skew in mating success was comparable for males and females. Several individuals that mated multiply also re-mated with a previous partner, but in a competitive environment no male copulated more than seven times. Mating success was unrelated to an individual's size, but males that had the most inter-sexual matings also engaged in the most intra-sexual mating attempts. In a second experiment, we show that, even in the absence of rivals, only a small number of males mated with all available virgin females. Moreover, even though males were mated twice to each female, males that copulated more than eight times failed to fertilize any eggs. We suggest that under natural conditions male hide beetles may refrain from mating either prior to, or at the point of, sperm depletion thereby reducing the selection pressure for females to discriminate against sperm depleted males. However, fecundity and fertilization success varied considerably across females and even those mating with sperm-replete males were unable to fertilize 100% of their egg batch. Thus, direct fertilization benefits accrued by females through mating more than once with the same male may play a key role in the maintenance of polyandry in this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-371
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Hide beetle
  • Mating frequency
  • Mating skew
  • Sperm depletion

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