The function of the sphragis in cressida cressida (Fab.) (lepidoptera, papilionidae): A visual deterrent to copulation attempts

A. G. Orr, R. L. Rutowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-710
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Natural History
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

Keywords

  • Cressida cressida
  • Lepidoptera
  • Mating plug
  • Papilionidae
  • Remating
  • Signal function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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