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Volume 103, Issue 1-2, Pages 25-36

Sexual Dimorphism in Eye Morphology in a Butterfly (Asterocampa leilia; Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae)

Depmtment of Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1501, USA

Received 29 December 1997

Copyright © 2000 Kristine S. Ziemba and Ronald L. Rutowski.


In the Empress Leilia butterfly, Asterocampa leilia, as in many insects, males have larger eyes than females. We explore the morphological causes and consequences of this dimorphism in eye size by comparing the corneal surface area, facet numbers, and patterns of variation in facet dimensions in males and females. We report that, with body size (measured by forewing length) controlled, male eyes are consistently larger than female eyes, and that, although males and females do not differ significantly in the number of facets per eye, males have significantly larger facets. Also, males have disproportionately larger facets both frontally and dorsally. As a result of these sexual differences in eye structure, males are expected to have a larger and more acute visual field than females which could be advantageous in the context of this species' mate searching tactic.