Sexual Discrimination Using Visual Cues in the Checkered White Butterfly (Pieris protodice)


Department of Zoology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85281, U.S.A.


The cues used by ♂♂ and ♀♀ of the checkered white butterfly, Pieris protodice, were explored using an assay that involved timing the responses of free-flying butterflies to tethered animals (“angling”). The models included ones that were made from the wings of ♂♂ and ♀♀ that had been extracted in a dilute ammonia solution. This procedure removes an ultraviolet-absorbing pigment from the wings and renders them more ultraviolet reflectant than normal without altering any other aspect of their coloration. The results show that both sexes make sexual discriminations using the sexual dimorphism in ultraviolet reflectance found in this species rather than using differences in the melanic markings on the wings, movement patterns, or chemical signals.