Female butterfly with brightly spotted wings, with male butterfly
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Butterflies 'take turns courting'

Scientists have discovered that males and females of some butterfly species take it in turns to court each other according to the season.

Squinting bush brown butterflies sport large reflective "eye spots" on their wings, which they use to gain the attention of a potential mate.

The research, published in the journal Science, shows that when butterfly larvae are reared at high temperatures, the adult male develops the bright spots and flashes them at females to attract them.

But when the young are raised in cooler conditions, the female sports the spots and actively courts male butterflies.

The researchers say such a trait could give the females control over mating when food resources are more likely to be scarce.

  • 06 Jan 2011