Circadian rhythms in the mating behavior of the cockroach, Leucophaea maderae

Jennifer Rymer, Amy L. Bauernfeind, Scott Brown, Terry L. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Mating behavior of small populations of virgin males and females of the cockroach Leucophaea maderae were continuously monitored via time-lapse video recording in controlled laboratory conditions. The time of onset of copulation was found to be rhythmic in a light cycle of 12 h light alternated with 12 h of darkness, with the peak of mating behavior occurring near the light to dark transition. This rhythm persisted in constant dim red illumination and constant temperature. In constant conditions, the period of the rhythm was slightly less than 24 h, with a peak of copulation during the late subjective day. These data demonstrated that mating behavior is gated by a circadian clock. When males and females were taken from light cycles that were 12 h out of phase, a bimodal rhythm was observed with one peak in the males' late subjective day and a second peak of equal amplitude in the late subjective day of females. The results indicated that circadian systems in both males and females contribute to the circadian rhythm in copulation. Bilateral section of the optic tracts (OTX) of both males and females abolished the rhythm, but the rhythm persisted when OTX females were paired with intact males or when OTX males were paired with intact females. Furthermore, when OTX males or OTX females were paired with intact animals that were 12 h out of phase, a bimodal rhythm was still observed. These results suggested that the circadian pacemaker in the optic lobes of both male and female cockroaches participates in the control of mating, but that a pacemaker outside the optic lobes is also likely involved. Finally, it was shown that the female's olfactory response (measured by electroantennogram) to components of the male sex pheromone exhibited a circadian rhythm, but the data suggested the peripheral olfactory rhythm is not likely to be involved in the rhythm of mating behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Cockroach
  • Copulation
  • Electroantennogram
  • Leucophaea maderae
  • Mating behavior
  • Olfactory
  • Sex pheromone


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