Compared to other ensiferan Orthoptera such as true crickets (Gryllidae) and katydids (Tettigoniidae) relatively little is known about the reproductive behavior of Anostostomatidae (formerly Stenopelmatidae), the king crickets, weta and allies. Moreover, although the New Zealand species (the weta) are best known, there is little knowledge of the biology of ground weta (Hemiandrus species), a variable genus especially with regard to ovipositor length. This paper presents observations of mating and post-mating behavior of several Hemiandrus species with short ovipositors. Sexually active males and females drum their abdomens on the substrate, apparently as local signals for mate attraction (pheromones may be involved in long distance communication). After mating there is both maternal and paternal investment. Females provide care to eggs and young larvae and males provide a spermatophylax to the female, a mating meal that, in other ensiferan Orthoptera can be an important source of nutrition. In contrast to other ensiferans, however, the spermatophylax of Hemiandrus species with short ovipositors is deposited on the female's abdomen, a separate location from the sperm ampulla. The spermatophylax is deposited while the male is attached to the female's underside, apparently to her modified 6th abdominal sternite. Also, in contrast to related taxa, males remain with their mates while the mating meal is eaten. These observations indicate that ground weta are excellent systems for examining behavioral and ecological questions about the evolution of complex signals, as well as the evolution of maternal and paternal investment.
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Vol. 77 • No. 4