The following excerpt was provided by Helen Wood of Mission Viejo, California and was the impetus for this photo series.
"The Queen is known for its definite courtship display which must be rigidly
followed by both sexes. The male chases the female and overtakes her from
above. He brushes her antennae with his abdominal hairpencils, which disseminate scent, and induces the female to alight. The male continues to
hover over the female, hairpencils still active, until the female becomes submissive. He alights alongside the female and copulation takes place.
Post-nuptial flights occur with the male pulling the female backwards through the air. Laboratory experiments have shown that males from which the
hairpencils have been removed, and females whose antennae have been made none receptive, are unacceptable, unable, or unwilling to mate. Male
butterflies of this genus are known to get their sex schents from plants such as heliotrope (Heliotropium) and eupatorium (Eupatorium) which contain
pyrrolizidine alkaloids." (New, 1991; Parenti, 1977; Pyle, 1999)
Click to view image enlarged (note the abdominal hairpencils on the males typically hovering above the female)