is smaller and much less protectively formed and coloured. In the bees and wasps (Hymenoptera) it is also the rule that the sexes are alike in colour, though there are several cases among solitary bees where they differ; the female being black, and the male brown in Anthophora retusa, while in Andraena fulva the female is more brightly coloured than the male. Of the great order of beetles (Coleoptera) the same thing may be said. Though often so rich and varied in their colours the sexes are usually alike, and Mr. Darwin was only able to find about a dozen cases in which there was any conspicuous difference between them. They exhibit, however, numerous sexual characters, in the length of the antennae, and in horns, legs, or jaws remarkably enlarged or curiously modified in the male sex.
It is in the family of dragonflies (order Neuroptera) that we first meet with numerous cases of distinctive sexual coloration. In some of the Agrionidae the males have the bodies rich blue and the wings black, while the females have the bodies green and the wings transparent. In the North American genus Hetaerina the males alone have a carmine spot at the base of each wing; but in some other genera the sexes hardly differ at all.
The great order of Lepidoptera, including the butterflies and moths, affords us the most numerous and striking examples of diversity of sexual colouring. Among the moths the difference is usually but slight, being manifested in a greater intensity of the colour of the smaller winged male; but in a few cases there is a decided difference, as in the ghost-moth (Hepialus humuli), in which the male is pure white, while the female is yellow with darker markings. This may be a recognition colour, enabling the female more readily to discover her mate; and this view receives some support from the fact that in the Shetland Islands the male is almost as yellow as the female, since it has been suggested that at midsummer, when this moth appears, there is in that high latitude sufficient twilight all night to render any special coloration unnecessary.
Butterflies present us with a wonderful amount of sexual
- Darwin's Descent of Man, p. 294, and footnote.
- Nature, 1871, p. 489.