, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 355-363

Female mate choice and mating costs in the polyandrous butterflyPieris napi (Lepidoptera: Pieridae)

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Abstract

Males of the green-veined white butterfly (Pieris napi L.) transfer large ejaculates that represent on average 15% of their body mass when mating for a first time. Shortly after mating a male is able to transfer only a small ejaculate when mating a second time. Male ejaculate production plays a crucial role in the mating system ofP. napi because females use male-derived nutrients for egg production and somatic maintenance. Here we study how timing of female rematings and copulation duration are influenced by the mating history of their mates and, also, study if females exert mate choice to minimize their mating costs. Mating with a recently mated male increased female mating costs by increasing time in copula and mating frequency. Virgin females that mated with virgin males remated after an average of 6 days, whereas virgin females that mated with recently mated males remated after an average of 2 days. Moreover, copulations involving recently mated males lasted on average almost 7 h, whereas copulations involving virgin males lasted on average 2 h. Recently mated males were eager to remate, in spite of the fact that the size of the ejaculate they transfer is small and that they remain in copula for a long time. Hence it seems that males are more successful in the sexual conflict over mating decisions and that females do not minimize mating costs by choosing to mate preferentially with virgin males.