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Butterfly courtship and Mating




Mating pair of Common five-ring
Primary natural task / activity of any living species is reproduction to sustain. Butterflies are not different and one adult finds other suitable adult to mate. My observation says, the mating period is afternoon and late afternoon in a day. Sure shot chance of mating can be caught where the population of a particular species is higher. This place could be near to food plant. There are incidences reported when individuals from two different species seen mating. 

The process starts with courtship. Courtship means pursuing the female for mating, which may or may not be successful. In most cases female raises the abdomen to show her refusal. There is no any kind of show-off by male seen with butterfly  before mating as seen normally with birds and other mammals. If there are more than one male present then swirling up fight decides the winner who is mostly the strong one. During mating, male and female can be easily distinguished. One with larger abdomen and dull appearance is female. Males are usually fresh and good looking ones.

Chances of seeing a mating pair is more where there is food plant around or nectoring done in large quantity by same species or near-by mud-puddling site.

As the butterfly coming out of pupa (eclosion) is a full grown adult, its almost ready to mate. The female adult can mate immediately while male adult can take about an hour to mate. Sometime mating is observed when one of the partner is just emerged out of pupa. Otherwise, the male butterflies patrol the territory in a particular fashion with his scent scales out. Scent scales are used to attract the female. Such habit is common with crow butterfly.




Many males trying to lure a female for mating

Another method is to wait and watch or perching. Male sits on the leaf at sufficient and observes the territory. When a female passes by, he starts chasing her. Sometimes more than one male is after the female to pursue her to mate.   

Butterfly mating / copulation may last for few minutes to some hours. Small butterflies keeps their wings closed and attaches the abdomen end part. Larger ones may sometime keep their wing open. In both the cases, butterflies face in opposite directions.

Mating with just emerged butterfly
If disturbed during mating, pair flies away. Often the bigger sex carries away the other one. Most butterfly species prefers to seat on the upper side of the leaf. However it depends on how much it camouflage. Species like tiger, crow hangs themselves for better camouflage, as it resembles to a pair of dry leaves. While grass yellow mating pair often shelters below a leaf.

Although its rare but possible that two different species butterfly seen mating-  cross mating.


Common Jezebels chasing female and female saying NO ! Look at the raised abdomen



Bigger butterfly is often female - mating pair of gram blue

Tiger mating pair hangs to dry plant / leaf - to camouflage  - mating pair of plain tiger


Mating pair of Common castor

Mating pair of Zebra blue


Close up of abdomen touching during mating - a red pierrot pair



Courtship of Malabar tree Nymph pair. Male is hovering over seated female.

Mating pair of Common line blue



Mating pair of grass jewel

Mating pair of some bushbrown



Mating pair of common crow

Mating pair of pea blue
Mating pair of common cerulean



Mating pair of peacock pansy


Mating pair of common castor

Mating pair of common four-ring




Mating pair of Grass demon




Mating pair of palmfly
Salmon Arab mating pair - small salmon arab - Upper one is male - a fresh one


Courtship of Common gull


Mating pair of bush-brown (?) - two different forms

Mating pair of Common grass yellow


Mating pair of common gull





Reference: 

[1] http://www.easy-butterfly-garden.com/butterfly-mating.html
[2] http://www.learnaboutbutterflies.com/Lifecycle%209%20-%20mate%20location%20courtship.htm



- By Paresh Kale



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