Wulff N.C., Van De Kamp T., Dos Santos Rolo T., Baumbach T., Lehmann G.U.C.
in Scientific Reports, 7 (2017), 42345. DOI:10.1038/srep42345
© The Author(s) 2017. Male genital organs are among the fastest evolving morphological structures. However, large parts of the male’s genitalia are often hidden inside the female during mating. In several bushcricket species, males bear a pair of sclerotized genital appendices called titillators. By employing synchrotron-based in vivo X-ray cineradiography on mating couples, we were able to visualize titillator movement and spermatophore attachment inside the female. Titillators are inserted and retracted rhythmically. During insertion the titillator processes tap the soft and sensillae-covered dorsal side of the female’s flap-like genital fold, which covers the opening of the female’s genitalia, without tissue penetration. Titillators thus appear to be initially used for stimulation; later they may apply pressure that forces the female’s genital fold to stay open, thereby aiding mechanically in spermatophore transfer.