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The success of mating disruption using synthetic sex pheromones depends not only on preventing mating, but also on delaying mating in the target insect. Using the geometrid pest of Eucalyptus
plantations, Mnesampela privata (Guenée), we determined the effect of delaying mating when imposed on males only, females only or on both sexes simultaneously, for 1, 3, 5 and 7 days. Delayed mating had a
significant negative impact on reproduction, with a 0.89‐fold decrease in the likelihood of mating and a 0.67‐fold decrease in the likelihood of that mating resulting in fertile eggs for every day that mating is delayed. A mating delay of 7 days reduced the mean number of viable
eggs laid to 4–13% of that laid by moths paired immediately after emergence. Male only imposed mating delays had a significantly lower effect on reducing the likelihood of pairs mating than when both sexes were delayed.
A delay imposed on one sex only or on both sexes simultaneously, however, had a similar negative impact on the proportion of fertile matings as well as on the total number of fertile eggs laid. Longevity of mated female
and male M. privata was significantly different between mating delay treatments, with a significant decline in female longevity when they mated with older males. The underlying mechanisms causing a decline in female
reproductive output when a mating delay was imposed on males versus females are discussed in relation to the reproductive biology of M. privata and the potential of using mating disruption strategies to control populations in Eucalyptus plantations.