Two’s company, three’s a crowd: mating Orange-tips

Any excuse to post photos of one of my favourite British butterflies – the Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines (the orange wing tips of the male are an example of warning colouration, incidentally: the butterfly is not particularly palatable because of mustard oils that have accumulated in the body from the larval foodplants – principally Cuckoo-flower Cardamine pratensis or Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata).

In the following series a female (which lack the orange tips to the wings, presumably relying more on camouflage as they tend to remain hidden within the undergrowth more than the males do) is using pheromones to attract any males in the vicinity [she also attracts a small bee, which I'm trying to find out is unusual or not]. One male comes in, successfully attaches, only to have a second male do his best to dislodge him, bouncing repeatedly off and flying back in to try again. It’s a scene no doubt repeated across the globe, but still interesting nonetheless (hopefully, anyway).

I’m not going to side either way on which male is more deserving etc, but the first male eventually won the prize, and it will – providing the female survives to lay and the eggs survive to hatch – be his genes that are passed along to the next generation.

 


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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores

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