Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hand Pairing Butterflies

Hey ya'll!!! 

I've not been this excited in ages!!! I just learnt of a new method for pairing up my butterflies today known as hand-pairing; a process where two individual insects are coerced to mate via human interaction. The process (and I have watched the video tutorial) seems relatively straightforward and involves gripping both butterflies in either hand and manually aligning the male's mating claspers along the female's ovipositor. As you might expect, the butterflies are sometimes quite indignant at being made to go through this procedure (the male needs to be "pinched" slightly to get his claspers open) but once they have been "connected", so to speak, both insects often calm down and find the process quite agreeable after all. The success rate of breeding is significantly increased which avoids "wasted specimens" fluttering around in captivity without ever reproducing and the other benefit to this is that you get to choose which butterflies to pair up (therefore ensuring that only the strongest, healthiest insects get to add their genetic material to one's breeding stock). Hand pairing, however, is not necessarily suitable for all species. While most moths are quite ambivalent about the procedure (Saturnids are especially cooperative!), not all butterflies are able to reproduce thusly. From what I've read, danaiidae and papilioniidae have been most successfully bred in this way! Fortunately for me, I have got a batch of swallowtail caterpillars on the way to adulthood. I can barely wait to start on them!!!

I wonder if this is how I can create hybrids...



Brittanie said...

This intrigues me so. Assuming that I'm lucky enough to catch males and females of local species. @_@ Can't tell the difference between some since they're not (that I know of) sexually dimorphic to tell the difference.

Pieris rapae is different thought easy to tell males & females from each other (not in flight though XD). But catching them is the problem. XD Aaaah something to think about for the future perhaps.

Cyren said...

Brittanie, what you do is you catch females first. Catch as many females as you can and put them in those large netting things (the one you tagged me in on Facebook) with a stalk of host plant that reaches almost to the top of the container. Feed them for a few days and leave them in a warm but not hot place with ample airflow. If the enclosure seems to dry, mist it with a plant mister to increase humidity. Check in every 2-3 days for eggs. Most of those females should be gravid so there will be eggs. Collect the eggs, release the females and start your "hybridizing" from scratch! :)