Adaptive significance of the mating of autumn-morph females with non-overwintering summer-morph males in the Japanese Common Grass Yellow, Eurema mandarina (Lepidoptera: Pieridae)
In the pierid butterflyEurema hecabe, which shows seasonal polymorphism (summer and autumn morphs) and overwinters at adult stage, whether or not the prediapause copulation may be of usual occurrence and reproductively functional was examined. From the counts of the spermatophores carried by the females, it is clear that the prediapause copulation characteristically occurs in reproductively inactive females of the autumn corph. From behavioral observations in the field, mating partners of those females are mostly males of the summer morph rather than from the autumn morph. In autumn, males of the summer morph remained abundant and searched for females on the larval food plants. Furthermore, they mated frequently with autumn morph females. Autumn morph males seemed to be sexually less active or inactive before hibernation. Microscopic examinations of the spermathecae were made in mated autumn-morph females collected before and after hibernation. The results indicate that sperm is passed by the males at autumnal copulation. The sperm may be stored in the female reproductive tract and utilized for fertilization in spring. This supposition is strongly supported by field data; that is, once-mated autumn-morph females laid fertilized eggs in spring. Finally, physiological basis of the prediapause copulation, its adaptive signficance and the behavioral advantage inE. hecabe are discussed from the viewpoint of seasonal adaptation.