The group discovered surprising abilities in a seemingly common butterfly, the cabbage whites – their reproductive capabilities are extraordinarily complex and powerful.
Quick highlights about the butterflies from the text:
- Males create spermatophores that are 13% of their body weight, which he builds inside of the female.
- Females have reproductive tracts that are more efficiently stomach-like than their own stomachs (including a chewing jaw that helps them break down the nutrients in the spermatophores).
- Their relationship is a rapidly evolving battle of the sexes.
The article is an interesting read about a seemingly plain jane butterfly. You can read more in the Atlantic: “This Common Butterfly Has an Extraordinary Sex Life” by Ed Yong. The research can be found in PNAS.
Camille Meslin, Tamara S. Cherwin, Melissa S. Plakkec, Brandon S. Small, Breanna J. Goetz, Nathan I. Morehouse, and Nathan L. Clark (2017) Structural complexity and molecular heterogeneity of a butterfly ejaculate reflect a complex history of selection PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707680114.