During mating, males of Cressida cressida (Lepidoptera, Papilionidae) form a large external mating plug or sphragis that covers the female’s copulatory opening and physically prevents remating. The sphragis has lateral and distal projections that make it an obvious structure. We tested experimentally the hypothesis that the sphragis acts as a signal of female mating status. Males pursue mated females with an intact sphragis only briefly and rarely make physical contact with them. When the sphragis of a mated female is removed or reduced in size, males are significantly more likely to physically contact the female and initiate the aerial takedown that preceeds a copulation attempt. These results suggest that the sphragis deters male sexual interest at a distance and thus functions as a signal of female mating status. The discussion focuses on the fitness consequences for females and their mates of the signal function of the sphragis.
- Cressida cressida
- Mating plug
- Signal function
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics