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Abstract

Although only one or just a few matings are considered sufficient to maximise a female's reproductive success, polyandry is a common mating system in insects and other animals. Female polyandry may either result from direct or indirect benefits of mating multiply, or from male harassment and thus sexual conflict over mating. Here, we test whether the latter is involved in determining female mating frequency in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana. We used a full-factorial design with three different sex ratios and densities each, resulting in a total of nine treatment groups. Sex ratio but not density affected female mating frequency, which increased with an increasingly male-biased sex ratio. Our results thus suggest that female polyandry in B. anynana results from sexual conflict, although females seem to be able to reject courting males at least to some extent. Therefore, polyandry in this species may occur in the first place from convenience, as the costs of resisting male harassment may be higher than mating repeatedly.