Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 183–196 | Cite as

Evidence for Mate Guarding Behavior in the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly

  • Victoria J. Bennett
  • Winston P. Smith
  • Matthew G. Betts


Discerning the intricacies of mating systems in butterflies can be difficult, particularly when multiple mating strategies are employed and are cryptic and not exclusive. We observed the behavior and habitat use of 113 male Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies (Euphydryas editha taylori). We confirmed that two distinct mating strategies were exhibited; patrolling and perching. These strategies varied temporally in relation to the protandrous mating system employed. Among perching males, we recorded high site fidelity and aggressive defense of small (<5 m2) territories. This territoriality was not clearly a function of classic or non-classic resource defense (i.e., host plants or landscape), but rather appeared to constitute guarding of female pupae (virgin females). This discrete behavior is previously undocumented for this species and has rarely been observed in butterflies.


Euphydryas editha taylori mating systems pre-copulatory mate guarding protandry sexual selection 



We thank Oregon State University’s General Research Fund for supporting this project and the National Geographic/Waitt Fund for supporting and funding additional data collection. Special thanks to Al Kitzman, superintendent of Benton County Natural Areas and Parks in Oregon and, Karen Holtrop and Susan Piper of the Olympic National Forest, USDA Forest Service in Washington for providing the opportunity, supporting and encouraging our research on the Taylor’s checkerspot carried out at their sites. Many thanks to Shalynn Pack, Maria Rocco, Diana Raper, Katelynn Karch, Aaron McAlexander, James Lafferty, Susan Shirley, and Yuon Han for providing much needed assistance in data collection. Additional thanks to Ann Potter, Diana Raper, and Karen Holtrop for providing feedback on manuscript drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria J. Bennett
    • 1
  • Winston P. Smith
    • 2
  • Matthew G. Betts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecosystems and SocietyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forestry Sciences LaboratoryOlympiaUSA

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