3D-printed insect models offer a feasible method for mating studies of chrysomelid beetles

Yuan Wang, Le Zong, Xin Ying Zhang, Si Qin Ge, Kari A. Segraves, Huai Jun Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A variety of models have been used in mating bioassays of insects to assess the contribution of chemical and visual signals to mate location and mate selection. Although the use of such ‘dummies’ has had varying degrees of success, some insect species refuse to accept simplistic models. In the present study, we developed a 3D-printed model to explore whether more realistic models will be more successful than simplistic models in mating assays of difficult to manipulate species such as the flea beetle Altica fragariae. We ran five experiments to test (1) whether males could discriminate between males and females solely based on differences in cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), (2) whether males use shape or (3) color to choose mates, and (4) whether males can discriminate between 3D-printed models and freshly killed beetles either with or (5) without legs and antennae. The results of these experiments confirmed that male A. fragariae preferred models coated with CHCs of females over that of male CHCs, providing strong support for the role of CHCs in mate choice in Altica. We also showed that males use both shape and color in mate selection, and that males are capable of discriminating between the models and real beetle specimens. Together, the results indicate that 3D-printed models can provide a feasible and cost-effective method for mating studies of insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • 3D-printed model
  • Altica
  • Behavioral assay
  • Chrysomelidae
  • Intraspecific recognition
  • Mating choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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