Skip to content

Iberian Marbled White – courtship sequence

Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 1

These nine images, which appear here in temporal sequence (from top to bottom), show a male Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis) butterfly flying around a female. I am not sure exactly what is going on but it looks like the male is trying to court the female with a view to mating.

Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 2

For butterflies, the process of finding, recognising and attracting a mate usually rests on a combination of sight and scents (i.e. vision and pheromones). The task of finding, or locating a mate is usually carried out by males. Male butterflies can either sit and wait for a female to come to them, or they can actively search for receptive partners. This is what appears to be happening here.

Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 3

When a male finds a potential mate however, the outcome is not a foregone conclusion and depends on the predilection – receptivity and choosiness – of the female. The male cannot force himself on a female, she must be reproductively receptive – and in some cases, may demonstrate this by specific ‘rejection’ behaviour: for example, spreading her wings and lifting her abdomen (in pierids). She must also respond positively to the bouquet of chemical signals (pheromones) released by the male when he comes close to her. The male which is actively flying around the female in these photographs, may be releasing such pheromones to try to court her. The female opens and shuts her wings a couple of times.

Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 4

His courtship generally serves to increase her receptivity, but this may take some time and varies from species to species. The pheromones produced by the male provide signals containing a wealth of information by which females can determine his health and status – and hence desirability. In this way, she can make her choice from the pool of available suitors. What the eventual outcome of this snapshot in the courtship dance was, I don’t know. Did she accept or reject him? Who knows. But I hope it is interesting to other people other than butterfly obsessives like myself!

Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 5
Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 6
Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 7
Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 8
Iberian marbled white (Melanargia lachesis) courting sequence 9

rcannon992 View All

I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

2 thoughts on “Iberian Marbled White – courtship sequence Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Michael Whitehead

Plants, pollination, evolution, ecology, natural history.

The year of the fly

Exploring the families of British Diptera

Jonathan Pomroy

Wildlife & Landscape Artist

the glyptodon

Stories of natural history


Research blog of Renee Rossini

Notes on a Spanish Valley

Award-winning blog - Living in rural Andalucia

The Art of Blogging

For bloggers who aspire to inspire

walter sanford's photoblog

Showcasing some of my digital photography and videography.


Science, skepticism and dragonflies

Paths Unwritten

Lost Cities. Forgotten Spaces. Curious Places.

Q13 FOX News

Seattle and Western Washington's source for breaking news, weather, and sports. Home of Washington’s Most Wanted and the Seattle Seahawks.

Spanish Linguist

a linguist writes about Spanish

Ray Cannon's nature notes

Every picture tells a story

Too Lazy To Weed

The not so ordinary wildlife of an ordinary (but scruffy) garden

Nature etc.

Books, birds and tales from the wild

Juha Lappalainen photography

The way I see the world around me...

Wandering with Butterflies

and other Lepidoptera

%d bloggers like this: