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Brief Mating Behavior at Dawn and Dusk and Long Nocturnal Matings in the Butterfly Melanitis leda

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pInformation on the mating system of an insect species is necessary to gain insight into sexual selection and population structure. Male territoriality of the common evening brown butterflyjats:italicMelanitis leda</jats:italic>has been studied in the wild, but other aspects of its mating system remain largely unknown. For a population ofjats:italicM. leda</jats:italic>in South India, we observed male-male and male-female interactions in captivity, measured mating duration and spermatophore mass, and also determined the degree of polyandry in the wild. We found that mating behavior takes place for short periods of time around dawn and dusk. Our observations corroborate that males compete in aerial combats (twirling) and interfere with mating pairs. In the morning, they may use shivering to warm up. Females can twirl with males and refuse mating by pointing their abdomens upwards or by flying away. Males court females by fluttering their wings while perched behind females, and then initiate copulation by curling their abdomens ca. 180 degrees sideways to make genital contact. While in the morning, matings lasted on average one hour and twenty-three minutes and never exceeded three hours, in the evening, matings could be of similar duration, but 42% of butterflies only separated when dawn was approaching. However, such long nocturnal matings did not result in heavier spermatophores. The first spermatophore of a male tended to be larger than subsequent spermatophores. Together with previous studies on this species, our findings suggest that males compete mainly through territorial defense (as reported before), courtship performance, and interference, and to a lesser extent by providing spermatophores, while females exert some control over the mating system by the timing of their receptivity and mate choice.</jats:p>



Aerial combat, Circadian rhythm, Courtship, Interference competition, Mating duration, Mating territory, Spermatophore

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Journal of Insect Behavior

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
IISER Thiruvananthapuram (na)
Government of India (DST/INSPIRE/04/2013/000476)