Two orange butterflies with black markings, one of them perched on a purple flower

Dark Green Fritillary. Photo: Shona Refoy

Shona was at Badbury Rings on 25/06/2021 taking photos of Dark Green Fritillaries nectaring on Knapweed and has sent in this photo saying:

I’m interested in the reaction of the female in the photo when she was approached by a male DGF.

What is happening at the tip of her abdomen? I’ve had a look in my text books, but am none the wiser – can anyone enlighten me please?

Editor’s Note:

This was a query I felt needed wiser counsel that I personally could offer so I referred the photo to Bill Shreeves who told me that Jeremy Thomas & Richard Lewington mention that males locate female Dark Green Fritillaries by picking up their scent and that he would guess that this is what might be happening in this photo.

Lynda Lambert who saw also the photo said she thought that it looks to her like the female is displaying the classic mating refusal position and that maybe if she has literally just mated with another male the tip of her abdomen may present like this.

Bill then advised that Lynda might be correct especially as he couldn’t remember how female DGFs send invitations to mate. He thought probably via tufts on the abdomen.

Bill and Lynda’s comments were then sent to Shona who agreed that it is probably a mating refusal.

However, Shona also mentioned that she took a number of other photos of this same butterfly nectaring before this photo was taken.  In these other photos Shona said the tip of the abdomen looks normal, as it does immediately afterwards and she didn’t think that it looks like that because she has just mated – it was only when the male appeared that the tip of her abdomen flared open.

If anyone reading this posting has any other ideas or suggestions about this do please let us know via the “Comment” link below.

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