University of Minnesota

The Battle of the Sexes

Humboldt Jr. High School
St. Paul, MN


In this experiment we wanted to find out how males would react to females after a period of segregation. We separated males and females for 2 days and then placed one female in a cage with all males. The males reacted in many different ways including flying away from the female, chasing the female, eating, fighting with other males, or not reacting at all. This experiment would have been more interesting and accurate if we would have separated the males and females from birth rather than for just 2 days. We learned that males have somewhat of a strong reaction to females and that it is very difficult to monitor and record animal behavior.


How will a cage of males behave when a female is added?


I think that they will stop eating and fly to the female.


Most male animals go towards females in the mating season.


  1. two box cages
  2. flowers
  3. 1 female butterfly
  4. 4 male butterflies
  5. honey water
  6. paper and pencil

Independent Variable

Placing a female in a cage with four males.

Dependent Variable

The activity of the butterflies.


Keeping the males and females separated for 24 hours prior to the experiment.


  1. Separate females and males 24 hours prior to the experiment.
  2. Put flowers in each cage, making sure to dip each flower in honey water beforehand.
  3. Make 2 charts for all the things you expect to happen with the monarchs' behavior.
  4. Record the males' behavior before placing the female in the cage.
  5. Add the female.
  6. Record the males' behavior again after the female has been added.
  7. Organize your data and make a clear, readable graph.


I noticed that chasing and flying away from the female happened the most often.

(Photo: Humboldt Jr. High School)


I think my results are interesting because I did not expect the majority of the butterflies to chase each other. I expected most of them to fly towards the female. I think that these results imply that most butterflies do not typically act like large mammals.

The only problem with my experiment is that only one flower is not enough to feed all 5 butterflies, so they are not all able to eat at the same time. If I were to change anything in this experiment, I would have one flower for each butterfly. I would also use a larger sample size.


Most butterflies chased each other and flew away. My results do not support my hypothesis. I learned that butterflies do not act like larger mammals. I also learned that butterflies do not mate as soon as they see another butterfly of the opposite sex.

  • © 2018 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy