Cold Lady Butterflies Don’t Play Hard to Get

Butterfly in Santee
Ricardo Jackiewicz

From the hallowed halls of Yale come new revelations about butterfly sex.

The way male and female butterflies relate to one another when they grow into winged adulthood just might depend on how they grew up -- sort of like people.

Well, not exactly like people.

For those of us without wings, a happy youth affects our relationships. For butterflies, weather plays a role in who is more aggressive.

Here’s the scientific part that scientists in a lab determined:

When certain caterpillars are raised in warm, moist conditions -- males pursue demure females.

But move those cocoons to dry, cool conditions, and the environment produces more dominant lady butterflies – aggressive ones who go after the their guys.

Mating cycles are short, so they "hit the ground running," Kathleen Prudic, of Yale University, said.

And males transfer nutrients and sperm to females. Since cool, dry weather provides fewer resources for butterflies, extra nutrients can be important to the females. So, they display to as many males as possible to obtain the extra resources.

And, as it goes with butterflies and humans, the ladies with the brightest spots tend to have the most success.

The report comes out in the Friday edition of the journal Science.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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