Similarities between Japanese and NZ Coppers?

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    I agree with you Terry. But also, I don’t think anyone has ‘stalked’ a butterfly that much to know exactly how many times it did or did not have sexual relations with another. Plus to conclude that all of one species only has sex once, requires lots of ‘stalking’. (You would need to employ the population of a small country full time to achieve it too!)



    I still think Jeff is right because it matches what I have seen with my own eyes watching butterflies in the wild. I have never bred any species in captivity that would only mate once, even Marsh Fritillary that are supposed to mate once mated numerous times, I think as I stated before, that in the wild they don’t get the chance because it’s a dangerous environment to be a Butterfly.



    Here is the abstract of the above paper for those who are interested.

    Ide, J.-Y. (2011), Avoiding Male Harassment: Wing-Closing Reactions to Flying Individuals by Female Small Copper Butterflies. Ethology, 117: no. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2011.01912.x

    Males of many butterfly species persistently court and attempt to mate with females even if the females reject courtship. This male harassment almost certainly has negative effects on female fitness. Therefore, females have likely evolved strategies to avoid such encounters. To investigate the harassment avoidance strategy of females of the small copper butterfly, Lycaena phlaeas daimio, I observed the reactions of females to other individuals flying nearby in the field. In response to the conspecific butterflies, females closed their wings if they had previously been open and did not exhibit any action if the wings had been closed. Females that closed their open wings in response to a conspecific received fewer mating attempts than did females that held their wings open. These results indicate that the wing-closing behaviour of L. phlaeas females functions to deter male mating attempts. The wing-closing reaction occurred primarily in mated females. Because females of L. phlaeas copulate only once during their lives, this behaviour is not considered an indirect mate choice but rather an attempt to avoid persistent mating attempts (i.e. sexual harassment) by males.



    There are many similarities between New Zealand copper butterflies and our UK Small copper one such similarity being there choice of food-plant muehlenbeckia NZ, and Docks and Sorrels UK, these being of the same family polygonaceae. I think I read somewhere that the NZ common copper will eat Dock or Sorrel, but I would have to read back through Gibbs book to find out for sure whether my memory is correct or not.



    Conversation between Terry Smithers and Jeff Boswell on this very subject.

    Terry to Jeff
    I wonder how much research this scientist actually did because I know for a fact that not all species react in the same way. Yellow Admiral mated females will close there wings as do most Nymphalidae, but with the Peiridae the females open wings and raise the abdomen to put off and signal to the males they are not receptive. I know that you and I knew this through years of observation so why didn’t the scientist just ask a local Lepidopterist and save a lot of time and money. Of course, the BBC condensed the research just to fit in a nice easy to read story for the masses, so I would have to read the whole paper in case he did find the same as we know. But I heard the report on the today programme first and they said all species, but then again they employ Muppets to do the scripts so they could have misrepresented his research as well.
    I also doubt whether Small Coppers only mate once, I reckon in captivity like most species they will mate many times although I would have to prove it first but in the wild they probably don’t last long enough to mate many times over, it’s so bloody dangerous out there!

    What do you think?

    Jeff to Terry

    Most species raise their abdomen to avoid mating. I have photos of a Common Blue doing this so I would expect Small Coppers to do the same, closing the wings doesn’t have quite the same affect if males are persistent. I’ve seen Speckled Woods, Zebras and many other species raising the abdomen too. I think closing the wings is the first step to stop being easily recognised then when a mating attempt happens they raise the abdomen.



    Must be just when the females are at rest. Whilst in flight the wing patterns would be visible again, and I guess the pursuit too.

    There is so much more research yet to be done on our NZ butterflies isn’t there. Like you Jacqui, I wonder if this behaviour is also prevalent among our Coppers? Does anyone know?

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