I know Valentine’s Day is coming up, but there’s new research out about a species of butterflies that is just, well, a selfish lout when it comes to its mates.


A team at the University of Cambridge studied the butterfly species Heliconius melponene and they found that its male butterflies are able to produce a chemical called ocimene, which for butterflies has a very strong smell.

When these butterflies mate with females, they cover their partners in the ocimene, and it acts as an anti-pheromone, warding off other males from trying to pursue the ladies.

Now, it’s not unusual in nature for creatures to take steps to give themselves a leg up in the competition for mates.

What is unusual, is that this smelly stuff they use for this chemical signalling is the same chemical compound produced by flowering plants – to attract butterflies.

Along the way, this certain type of butterfly adapted so that the males could produce the anti-pheromone themselves, completely separate from the flowers.

It’s a remarkable adaptation in biological terms, if not terribly considerate of their mates.

Then again, the researchers said that male butterflies can pester the females when they want to mate – so a smelly chemical that convinces those dudes to back off may prevent some unwanted butterfly advances.

Even so, any bug that tries to cover you in smelly stuff, consider swiping left.


A research team analyzed posts on the r/Breakups subreddit and found that the language people use to describe their relationships can predict a breakup before it happens, sometimes months beforehand.

So when you’re picking out flowers and chocolates and whatever else this weekend for your sweetheart, maybe do some data analysis too?

Butterflies Mark Their Mates To Repel Other Suitors (University of Cambridge)

Reddit Study Reveals How Many Months It Takes To Get Over A Breakup (Inverse)

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Heliconius melpomene butterfly photo by Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikicommons