a basic, probably dumb question I haven't found the answer to yet.

Niklas Wahlberg niklas.wahlberg at Helsinki.FI
Tue Jan 19 06:01:17 EST 1999

At 20:19 17.1.1999 -0600, you wrote:
>I just have a really simple question, but can't seem to find
>an answer, though I've tried a few websites.  Are butterflies
>attracted to plants by color, by scent, or both?  Thank you 
>to any and all who reply.

Both is probably the right answer, though it depends on the species in
question. In my experience I've found that melitaeine butterflies
(checkerspots, fritillaries) are attracted to flowers mainly by colour
(yellow is the favourite of many species). Most of these flowers have no
detectable scent. Ovipositing females however appear to be attracted by
leaf shape. This has been shown for one species of swallowtail (Battus
philenor if I remember correctly). The melitaeines that I have studied also
prefer to land on plant species with similar leaf shape to their host plant
when ovipositing, though I haven't tested this rigorously. Once they have
landed, they taste the plant to identify it.



   Niklas Wahlberg                          
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