Puddling and sodium gifts in Lepidoptera

Male butterflies and moths frequently drink at pools of liquid, a behavior known as puddling. Anyone who has visited a tropical rainforest will have seen drinking clusters of perhaps hundreds of newly eclosed male butterflies, attracted particularly to urine, feces, and human sweat. It has long been suggested that puddling - in which copious quantities of liquid are ingested orally and expelled anally

- results in uptake of minerals, such as sodium, which are deficient in the larval (caterpillar) folivore diet. The sex bias in puddling occurs because the male uses the sodium obtained by puddling as a nuptial gift for his mate. In the moth Gluphisia septentrionis (Notodontidae) the sodium gift amounts to more than half of the puddler's total body sodium and appears to be transferred to the female via his spermatophore (Smedley & Eisner 1996). The female then apportions much of this sodium to her eggs, which contain several times more sodium than eggs sired by males that have been experimentally prevented from puddling. Such paternal investment in the offspring is of obvious advantage to them in supplying an ion important to body function.

In some other lepidopteran species, such "salted" gifts may function to increase the male's reproductive fitness not only by improving the quality of his offspring but also by increasing the total number of eggs that he can fertilize, assuming that he remates. In the skipper butterfly, Thymelicus lineola (Hesperiidae), females usually mate only once and male-donated sodium appears essential for both their fecundity and longevity (Pivnick & McNeil 1987). These skipper males mate many times and can produce spermatophores without access to sodium from puddling but, after their first mating, they father fewer viable eggs compared with remating males that have been allowed to puddle. This raises the question of whether females, which should be selective in the choice of their sole partner, can discriminate between males based on their sodium load. If they can, then sexual selection via female choice also may have selected for male puddling.

In other studies, copulating male lepidopterans have been shown to donate a diversity of nutrients, including zinc, phosphorus, lipids, and amino acids, to their partners. Thus, paternal contribution of chemicals to offspring may be widespread within the Lepidoptera.

Beekeeping for Beginners

Beekeeping for Beginners

The information in this book is useful to anyone wanting to start beekeeping as a hobby or a business. It was written for beginners. Those who have never looked into beekeeping, may not understand the meaning of the terminology used by people in the industry. We have tried to overcome the problem by giving explanations. We want you to be able to use this book as a guide in to beekeeping.

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