Estonian Museum of Natural History opens an exhibition presenting the love locks of butterflies

14. February 2018

From 14 of February the Estonian Museum of Natural History showcases the exhibition „Love Locks of Butterflies and Moths“. The exhibition features microscopic photos of the organs of butterfly and moth species, including photos of their female and male genitals.

„While butterflies and moths were earlier identified only by their wing patterns, it was discovered in the late 19th century that externally indistinguishable species can be distinguished by their internal anatomy, or more specifically – their genitals,“ says entomologist and curator of the exhibition Aare Lindt. „The examination of the internal anatomy of butterflies under a microscope is a common procedure in the scientific study of insects. And because the microscopic picture one sees is very unique and symmetrical, we had an idea to show that to the guests of our museum as well,“ he adds.

Alongside presenting beautiful photos, the aim of this exhibition is to give an overview of the one of a kind mating of butterflies and moths: their mating takes place according to the lock-and-key principle, which means that mating is successful only if the genitals of the female and the male have perfectly matching shapes, like a lock and a key. “The lock-and-key principle helps prevent interbreeding between species and it also helps to exclude competition,” says Aare Lindt. “Many of us have probably seen the lock-system actuation – two butterflies flying around seemingly being stuck together,” he says.

The exhibition „Love Locks of Butterflies and Moths“ features 12 microscopic photos of the organs of ten butterfly and moth species, including photos of their female and male genitals, which unlock how entomologists identify species.

The exhibition was compiled by Aare Lindt and Ulla Männi. Our acknowledgements to the printing house ArtPrint. 

News archive

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  2. 14. February 2018 Estonian Museum of Natural History opens an exhibition presenting the love locks of butterflies
  3. 02. January 2018 2017 brought record-breaking number of visitors to the Estonian Museum of Natural History
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  12. 13. December 2016 Estonian Museum of Natural History is closed on 24, 25 and 26 December and 1 January
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  15. 17. August 2016 Estonian Museum of Natural History is open on 20 August
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