How Flashy Wings, UV Light, and Seasons All Play a Role in One Butterfly Species’ Mating Rituals

Entomology Today

Bicyclus anynana butterflies mating In Bicyclus anynana butterflies that develop in the dry season, mating rituals are reversed: Females use their flashy wing spots to attract males, rather than vice versa. Here, a dry-season male (left) and female mate. (Photo credit: William H. Piel and Antónia Monteiro)

By Edward Ricciuti  

Males of an African butterfly, with the improbable nickname of “squinting bush brown,” are the Lepidopteran version of chick magnets—if their generation of caterpillars chills out while it grows up.

Ed Ricciuti

Caterpillars of this butterfly (Bicyclus anynana) that develop during the cool dry season flip traditional sex roles as adults when ready to mate in the warm wet season that follows, with females actively courting males instead of the other way around. However, larvae that develop in the warm wet season grow into adult butterflies with more conventional habits, with males showing off to draw females as they reproduce during the subsequent…

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