Like a Butterfly

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

September 20, 2012

Like most critters, butterflies are not indifferent to the promptings of l’amour. It is not uncommon to see a pair flopping through the air, hooked together in passion’s embrace. In fact, any naturalist who has ever led small children on a nature walk during the warm parts of the year will tell you that butterflies seem to enjoy an audience. They are particularly fond of performing for church groups.

But I digress.

Apparently Variegated Fritillaries (Euptoieta claudia) are some of the most flagrant delicto-ers out there. If you search the internet for Variegated Fritillary courtship, you will be rewarded with a wealth of photos and videos.

They are not shy, which is an odd thing since Euptoieta supposedly means easily scared. What that says about Claudia, I don’t know.1

This is a female Variegated Fritillary nectaring at a Knapweed, minding her own business.

Female Variegated Fritillary

Female Variegated Fritillary

She is soon joined by a male, who is also intent on minding her business.

Variegated Fritillaries

The lady objects.

Variegated Fritillaries

Note her posture with the abdomen raised. I did not know if that was a “come hither” signal, or a “get lost” signal. Neither did the male butterfly it would seem. Still that weird green monkey-faced bit at the tip of her abdomen didn’t seem alluring—but I’m no butterfly. I found a terrific site on the internet called simply “learn about Butterflies” by a gentleman in the United Kingdom named Adrian Hoskins. In his description of the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines), he has a great photo of a female “raising her abdomen as a rejection signal.”2

Female Variegated Fritillary, abdomen tip

So, that means “get lost.”

Variegated Fritillaries

The male never got the memo.

Variegated Fritillaries

Maybe if he sneaks up from behind.

Variegated Fritillaries


Variegated Fritillaries

Sneak–careful with that antenna…

Variegated Fritillaries

Sneak…almost there…

Variegated Fritillaries

Boom! Rejected!

Variegated Fritillaries

Frigidity beam at 3 o’clock low. Break left, break left, climb, climb, climb.

Female Variegated Fritillary, face close up.

Check out her face. Pardon my anthropomorphism, but doesn’t that face just say “Jerk”?

Variegated Fritillaries

He does not take the hint.

Variegated Fritillaries

Well, if at first you don’t succeed…

Variegated Fritillaries

Find a different way to make a fool of yourself.

Immediately hereafter, she fled for parts unknown with her clueless paramour in hot pursuit.

Poor lass.

To abuse the wisdom of that great American philosopher, Dolly Rebecca Parton:

“Love is like a butterfly” an unrequited pesky guy. A multi-colored fool in love is still a stupid thing.







  1. Nor should a gentleman speculate. []
  2. Adrian Hoskins. “Orange tip,” Butterflies of Britain & Europe (Learn about Butterflies, available on the web at [accessed 19 September 2012]. []

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2 Responses

  1. David said:

    JB – It some species (usually smaller than the Variegated), the female not only raises her abdomen but also rapidly flutters her wings in a short-arc oscillation. This is called a “rejection dance”. It’s very effective and the male generally leaves pronto without spending any more energy. The dance indicates she’s already mated.

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