Indicators of recent mating success in the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) and their relationship to male phenotype

Nayuta Sasaki, Tatsuro Konagaya, Mamoru Watanabe, Ronald L. Rutowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A key determinant of the intensity of sexual selection acting on a trait is how variation in that trait is related to variance in reproductive success of individuals. This connection compels efforts to assess lifetime mating number and how it varies among individuals in a population. In the Lepidoptera, female mating success can be assessed relatively easily by counting by the number of spermatophores in the female's copulatory sac but male mating success in the field can often only be documented by observing copulations. Here we report a method for identifying whether or not males have recently mated that relies on the effect of mating on the appearance of the male's reproductive tract in the pipevine swallowtail, Battus philenor. In this species laboratory experiments reveal that during mating, components of a male's reproductive tract become shorter, decrease in mass, and change in appearance, irrespective of male age. These changes persist for at least two days after mating. After documenting these indicators of recent mating, we examined the reproductive tract of 68 field-caught males and found that twelve (17.6%) showed strong evidence of having mated recently. We found that older males were more likely to have recently mated. In addition, the color of the dorsal hindwing, a feature that females use in mate choice, was significantly greener in males, that according to our criteria, had recently-mated than in males that had not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of insect physiology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Butterfly
  • Duplex
  • Ejaculate substance
  • Male mating success
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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