Flirting Aggressively: Cold Born Female Butterflies Switch Gender Roles


We have many misconceptions about the natural world, and many of them are in regards to gender.

Yale University researchers have identified that female caterpillars raised at cooler temperatures grow into adult female butterflies who "court" in the same manner as males of the same species, a strain of the Bicyclus anynana, a butterfly found in Malawi. Not only do these females flirt more aggressively than females raised at warmer temperatures, their actual morphology is different, growing the more ornamental "eyespots" or "the circular designs visible on the butterfly’s wings...the sexual ornaments males use to attract females." These researchers are studying how this change in temperature impacts the typical gender representations of these butterflies, as this is the first species of butterflies where role reversal has been observed.

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