"fighting" male Saturniidae?

William Oehlke oehlkew at islandtelecom.com
Thu Jun 21 21:06:42 EDT 2001

The other morning around 5:00 am I watched several male Hyalophora columbia fly in to my calling females.  I observed a behaviour typical of butterflies.  One of the males in an open area about ten feet from the cage and fifteen feet above ground "dive bombed" about five feet to hit another male in mid flight.  I saw this happen at least twice.  Is this an act of agression or a case of mistaken identity, one male believing the other to be the calling female?
My females were in cylindrical hardware cloth cages and I captured and dropped one male into the cage and then promptly captured and dropped a second male into the same cage where I had two females calling.  The males found each other before finding the females and appeared to be trying to mate with each other. I pulled them apart and the loose male quickly found one female and paired.  I lowered the second male into the cage and he "attacked" the pair.  I pulled him off and set him on the wire mesh  below the unpaired female and he quickly paired with her.
I am most curious about the "dive bombing" incident and am wondering if others have observed it with Saturniidae males.
I am also seeing what appear to be pure columbia columbia males coming in and hybrid columbia columbia x cecropia males.  The "hybrids" are definitely larger and have a hint of red line on dorsal lower wing surfaces. Ventral surfaces though are definitely columbia.
Cecropia typically begin calling here around 10:00 pm and then again near dawn if they did not pair before midnight.  Columbia females start calling around 4:00 am
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Bill Oehlke
Box 476, Montague, P.E.I., Canada C0A 1R0
oehlkew at islandtelecom.com
Phone: 902-838-3455
fax: 902-838-0866
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