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Chap. XI.
319
Butterflies and Moths.

In England we have some analogous cases, though not so marked. The females alone of two species of Thecla have a bright-purple or orange patch on their fore-wings. In Hipparchia the sexes do not differ much; but it is the female of H. janira which has a conspicuous light-brown patch on her wings; and the females of some of the other species are brighter coloured than their males. Again, the females of Colias edusa and hyale have "orange or yellow spots on the black marginal border, represented in the males only by thin streaks;" and in Pieris it is the females which "are ornamented with black spots on the fore-wings, and these are only partially present in the males." Now the males of many butterflies are known to support the females during their marriage flight; but in the species just named it is the females which support the males; so that the part which the two sexes play is reversed, as is their relative beauty. Throughout the animal kingdom the males commonly take the more active share in wooing, and their beauty seems to have been increased by the females having accepted the more attractive individuals; but with these butterflies, the females take the more active part in the final marriage ceremony, so that we may suppose that they likewise do so in the wooing; and in this case we can understand how it is that they have been rendered the more beautiful. Mr. Meldola, from whom the foregoing statements have been taken, says in conclusion; "Though I am not convinced of the action of sexual selection in producing the colours of insects, it cannot be denied that these facts are strikingly corroborative of Mr. Darwin's views."[1]


As sexual selection primarily depends on variability, a few words must be added on this subject. In respect to colour there is no difficulty, for any number of highly variable Lepidoptera could be named. One good instance will suffice. Mr. Bates shewed me a whole series of specimens of Papilio sesostris and P. childrenæ; in the latter the males varied much in the extent of the beautifully enamelled green patch on the fore-wings, and in the size of the white mark, and of the splendid crimson stripe on the hind-wings; so that there was a great contrast amongst the males between the most and the least gaudy. The male of Papilio sesostris is much less beautiful than of P. childrenæ: and it likewise varies a little in the size of

  1. 'Nature,' April 27th, 1871, p. 508. Mr. Meldola quotes Donzel, in 'Soc. Ent. de France,' 1837, p. 77, on the flight of butterflies whilst pairing. See also Mr. G. Fraser, in ' Nature,' April 20th, 1871, p. 489, on the sexual differences of several British butterflies.