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Incredibly rare dual-sex butterfly found at Pingree Butterfly Haven

rare dual sex butterfly
Karen and Randy Reed found an incredibly rare butterfly with both male and female characteristics at their Butterfly Haven in Pingree.

PINGREE, Idaho (KIFI) - A Pingree couple with a passion for butterflies came upon a one in a million find: a butterfly with both sex chromosomes.

This Tiger Swallowtail butterfly made it's uniqueness known when it opened its wings for the first time and displayed its remarkably different wings: one yellow for his male characteristics, and one dark and blue, for her female characteristics.

“When its wings were closed, it looked normal. When its wings opened, I’m like Wow! That’s when we contacted our friend and said what is this?" said Randy Reed, who owns and operates the Butterfly Haven in Pingree with his wife Karen. The couple raises thousands of butterflies in a greenhouse-turned-sanctuary, where they found the incredibly rare butterfly.

The Reeds immediately called a Lepidopterology, a butterfly scientist, who told them the rare insect they've hatched is bilateral gynandromorph, which is an organism that contains both male and female characteristics. The phenomenon is found most commonly in insects and birds, because their male and female organisms look so different.

Female Tiger Swallowtail butterflies can be either yellow with a blue tail or dark grey with some blue. Males are yellow with four black "tiger stripes."

The Reed's special butterfly has a male wing on its left and a dark female wing on its right. The split in sex characteristics down the middle is what makes the gynandromorph bilateral.

The cause of this phenomenon is usually an event in mitosis during early development, while the organism contains only a few cells, one of the dividing cells does not split its sex chromosomes.

“As a caterpillar turns into a chrysalis, it completely dissolves, and the butterfly body parts are inside there and they come out in that form. So it was in that formation that the split didn’t go right and it occurred that way,” Karen said.

Butterflies typically live two to three weeks, but this one didn't last as long. The butterfly will go to a friend's collection to keep safe, and a photo of the rare insect will be hung in the Butterfly Haven gift shop.

The Butterfly Haven is located at 1462 W 200 S Pingree, Idaho.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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