Sex Pheromone of the Queen Butterfly: Biology

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Science  06 Jun 1969:
Vol. 164, Issue 3884, pp. 1170-1172
DOI: 10.1126/science.164.3884.1170


Males of the queen butterfly Danaus gilippus berenice, deprived of the two extrusible brushlike "hairpencils" at the rear of their abdomen, are capable of courting females but incapable of seducing them. In normal courtship, an aphrodisiac secretion associated with the hairpencils is transferred by way of tiny cuticular "dust" particles to the antennae of the females. Of the two substances identified from the secretion, one (the ketone) acts as the chemical messenger that induces the females to mate. The only known function of the other compound (the diol) is to serve as a glue that sticks the dust to the female. Males were reared under conditions in which they produced subnormal amounts of ketone and showed reduced seductive capacity. Under certain experimental circumstances, the competence of these males was restored by addition of synthetic ketone.

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