Stories

SaveSave story

The generous sex life of the cabbage white butterfly

David Cook / Flickr Creative Commons

Scientist Nathan Morehouse has discovered that one of the most common butterflies — the white cabbage — has an unusual sex life, including large, protein-rich ejaculates that nourish the females as they produce offspring, according to the Atlantic.

How it works: Male butterflies ejaculate a solid package (unlike humans) of sperm called a spermatophore, which is often 13% of its body weight. The package is left in a pouch in the female's reproductive tract where the sperm moves on to a second pouch where it will later fertilize eggs. The rest of the protein-packed spermatophore is broken down for the female's nourishment. One spermatophore provides females with the nutrients needed for almost half of the eggs they'll lay.