Ovoviviparity or viviparity has evolved independently in animals and involves adaptations in females to accommodate developing embryos for a prolonged duration in their bodies, a condition which has likely to have influenced the evolution of the male genitalia. We aimed to ascertain whether the elongated male genitalia of the ovoviviparous free-living earwig species Marava arachidis (Dermaptera: Spongiphoridae) delivers sperm directly to the female ovaries where fertilization occurs. Males mated coercively with females by grabbing the female antenna with their mouth parts. Although females resisted the mating attempts, pairs mated 3.3 times on average over 15 h. The elongated intromittent organ, known as a virga, was inserted into the long-tubed spermatheca during insemination. Surgical ectomy of the spermatheca confirmed that sperm migrated from here to the ovaries with a variable delay. A pair of sclerites in the male genitalia frequently inflicted wounds near the spermathecal opening, while the single, thin virga sometimes broke off during mating. However, unlike earwigs bearing a 'spare' virga, damage was restricted to the tip of the virga, without which the males could still inseminate the females. We discuss the evolution of the genitalia in this insect in the light of sexual selection and sexual conflict over mating and fertilization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics