There’s no place like home: butterflies stick to their burbs

Members of at least one species choose mates and egg sites based on where they were born, research reveals

Birthplace exerts a lifelong influence on butterflies as well as humans, new research reveals.

In a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Macquarie University ARC Future Fellow Associate Professor Darrell Kemp reveals that the American passionfruit butterfly, Heliconius charithonia, selects its mate and egg-laying site based on the species of plant that hosted its own egg.

The finding constitutes the first evidence that conditions in very early life for butterflies determine adult behaviour – something many researchers previously thought impossible.

“There was considerable doubt about this,” says Professor Kemp. “How can conditioning that occurs in a developing caterpillar survive the complete neural rearrangement that happens once it pupates?

/Public Release.