Jalmenus evagoras has an fascinating mating strategy: males usually develop more quickly, eclose early before females, and then attempt to mate with individuals as they emerge from their pupal cases. Prior research in the Pierce lab suggests that males do not distinguish between male and female pupae. However, males preferentially guard pupae that are within a few hours of eclosing.
In collaboration with Mark Cornwall, I examined the chemical signals produced by pupae in an attempt to answer the following questions: Do male and female pupae have different chemical signatures? Do older pupae have different chemical signatures than younger pupae? Are these chemicals volatile or non-volatile?
We found non-volatile long-chain cuticular hydrocarbons on all the pupa (male/female/young/old), which are probably involved in attracting attendant ants. However, the search for volatile compounds is ongoing.
photo by Beth Mantle