Red anemone guild flowers as focal places for mating and feeding by Levant glaphyrid beetles

Tamar Keasar, Ally R. Harari, Guido Sabatinelli, Denis Keith, Amots Dafni, Ofrit Shavit, Asaph Zylbertal, Avi Shmida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several species of glaphyrid (Scarabaeoidea: Glaphyridae) beetles forage and mate on Mediterranean red bowl-shaped flowers. In red anemones and poppies in Israel, female beetles occupy only a subset of the flowers, do not aggregate, and are hidden below the petals. This raises the question of how males find their mates. In the present study, we investigated the hypothesis that males and females orient to similar plant-generated cues, thereby increasing their mate encounter prospects. Previous studies have demonstrated that beetle attraction to red models increases with display area. Choice tests with flowers and with models indicate that both male and female beetles prefer large displays. In anemones, beetles rest, feed, and mate mainly on male-phase flowers, which are larger than female-phase flowers. Poppies that contain beetles are larger than the population average. These findings support the hypothesis that males and females meet by orienting to large red displays. Corolla size correlates with pollen reward in both plant species, suggesting that visits to large flowers also yield foraging benefits. Male beetles often jump rapidly among adjacent flowers. By contrast to the preference for large flowers by stationary individuals, these jump sequences are random with respect to flower sex-phase (in anemone) and size (in poppy). They may enable males to detect females at close range. We hypothesize that males employ a mixed mate-searching strategy, combining orientation to floral signals and to female-produced cues. The glaphyrids' preference for large flowers may have selected for extraordinarily large displays within the 'red anemone' pollination guild of the Levant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-817
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Beetle pollination
  • Co-evolution
  • Display size
  • Glaphyridae
  • Mate searching
  • Red

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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