These swallowtail butterflies seemed to be fighting for nectar on a flowering tree.
But watching carefully, that was far from the truth. In fact, only the female Great Mormon on the left was having her lunch, while the four male Great Mormon butterflies on the right were performing the famous “Mating Dance” in order to charm the female.
Within minutes, two dominant males bullied away the others and started competing for the female.
None of them was willing to give up this opportunity so both were dancing ever more vigorously.
However, the female seemed to be unimpressed. One of them soon gave up and left.
But this determined male still carried on with even more energetic dance moves.
Once he realized that this strategy was not working, he decided to use force and started physical attacks.
Fortunately (for the female), a nearby Common Mormon butterfly was not happy with the male’s behaviour and decided to interfere.
Soon the male Great Mormon was chased away.
To my surprise, the Common Mormon butterfly (must be a male) started the mating dance himself, which was of course in vain.
Clearly this male Common Mormon had mistaken the female Great Mormon as its own species. The female, on the other hand, must have sensed the mistake perhaps through the pheromones released by him.
Although a love story without a happy ending, it makes me wonder if we have given butterflies enough credit for their intelligence.