Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mating Beauties

When you are out in the garden you never know what miracles you may witness. This week while I was  inspecting the vegetables two Hairstreak butterflies landed on the radishes and began their mating ritual. (Luckily, I happen to have my camera with me albeit the wrong lens)

That is not a reflection but a male clasping onto a female.

Butterflies mate facing opposite directions with their abdomens attached.

After butterflies mate the female will have around 100 eggs inside her and a pouch full of male spermatozoa. When she finds the right host plant she can self-fertilize the eggs. The eggs are fertilized only seconds before she lays the egg(s) on the leaf of the host plant thus determining the sex of the butterfly.

Some butterflies lay their eggs individually and spread them out on the host plant(s) while other butterflies lay their eggs in clusters. Each species has their unique method that works best for their survival. Of all the eggs the female lays only 2% successfully become adults.

Male butterflies will mate several times during their short lifetime while females typically mate just once. Hopefully these two will be successful.


  1. Great photos. Interesting information. You would think those were 2 different species with the extreme difference in coloration.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. I hope you get more butterflies.

  3. I agree with Cher. The difference in coloration is striking, but I guess it's like peacocks or other male birds not having similar coloring as their mates.

  4. Nice capture. I saw a zebra swallowtail the other day at an outdoor funeral. I couln't believe my eyes as this is out of their zone. It was cool, of course no camera.

  5. Fabulous sighting...I love spending hours in the garden to get a chance encounter...

  6. Very interesting! I love learning something new. :o) Last summer it seemed like there was a shortage of butterflies but this year they're everywhere! I have hairstreaks in my garden, too. I just love them!

  7. Aw, just 2% live to adulthood. How sad. I'm going to be looking for my butterflies facing away from each other from now on! Great photos!

  8. Oh wow..what a catch...this is great...Michelle

  9. What luck to be there at that particular moment. Such a seemingly insignificant sight, a person might never know what was going on.

  10. Very cool photos! I never saw the butterflies 'doing the nasty'. This is the time of year to be a voyeur, I guess. Joking of course, but these were really good captures.

  11. Great captures, Karin! A lot of shots, too.

  12. You got great captures regardless of the lens - you would have been disappointed had you not followed ABC !

    Loved your flower shots (below) and raspberries in MAY !! We have to wait till later in July before we get to enjoy those.

  13. Karin,
    These hairstreaks can not produce any viable eggs. You have a male Banded Hairstreak, Satyrium calanus and the larger one is a White M Hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album. Both hairstreaks do however feed on oaks. Both I would consider a good find in your garden!!!

    1. Interesting. I was wondering about the color differences between these two but didn't think that they would cross breed so I didn't research any further. Now I know better. Thanks!


"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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