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Dynamics of eupyrene and apyrene sperm storage in ovipositing females of the swallowtail butterfly Papilio xuthus (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae)


Dr Mamoru Watanabe, Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8572 Japan.


A male swallowtail butterfly, Papilio xuthus, transfers both eupyrene and apyrene sperm during copulation, both of which migrate to the spermatheca via the spermatophore in the bursa copulatrix of the female. Because the spermatheca seems to remain constant in size during the female lifespan, the excess sperm migration may cause the spermatheca to overflow. Approximately 9000 eupyrene and 265 000 apyrene spermatozoa were transferred during a single copulation, and approximately 1000 eupyrene and 1100 apyrene spermatozoa successfully arrived in the spermatheca. The number of both types of spermatozoon decreased in the spermatheca after the onset of oviposition, and no eupyrene spermatozoa were found by 7 days after copulation, partly due to insemination. The spermathecal gland leading from the distal end of the spermatheca was gradually filled by eupyrene spermatozoa. Although the function of the gland remains unclear, the final destination of the sperm is likely to be the gland.