Tag Archives: Mating refusal

A white and a yellow butterfly on a bush

Brimstones. Photo: Shona Refoy

Shona was delighted to get this shot of a female Brimstone refusing to mate with the male, as it was her first ever shot of a stationery female Brimstone upperwing. Taken at Badbury Rings on 10/05/2019.

When a female butterfly has already mated, she will refuse further male advances: she needs to get on with laying her eggs, which she will do on the bush in the photograph, which is a buckthorn. She shows her refusal by having her wings open and raising up her abdomen, often with the genitalia extruded.

view of a Peacock among leaf litter

Peacock. Photo: Shona Refoy

Shona sent us this photo of a Peacock seen in what she described as a half hearted mating refusal position at Kingston Lacey NT allotments on 13/10/18.  Sometimes the abdomen is raised very markedly it can indicate the female has already mated and doesn’t want further attention. However when the abdomen is raised only slightly it may be a sign of receptiveness on her part. Poor males, let’s hope they are good at reading the signals.

Green-veined White mating refusal

Male and female Green-veined Whites under a leaf

Green-veined White. Photo: Penny Hawes

Male and female Green-veined whites under a leaf

Green-veined White. Photo: Penny Hawes

Penny did well to catch these two Green-veined Whites in Bournemouth Gardens on 20/07/2017. She is probably right in thinking the female is in a mating refusal posture. Some butterfly species have evolved this behaviour so that when the female is already mated she refuses the male, allowing her to get on with laying her fertilised eggs. This is done by her holding her wings wide open and raising her abdomen almost to a vertical position, often with the genitalia extruded.