Monomorphic Adolescence

Concerto for Twelve Saxophones by Olgierd Rudak

Monomorphic Adolescence

Many moth and butterflies
Are wearing genders proud –
Males are coloured-up as males,
And ladies sport theirs loud.
But back when they were caterpillars,
They dressed all the same,
Until their pupas split to show the world,
As out they came.
It’s not like they have any choice,
Deciding which they’d rather –
They’re future’s set before they’re laid,
The sons become the fathers.
It must be hard to be a parent
Waiting long to be amazed –
Your kids emerge from their cocoons
And then you see what sort you raised.
Except…a very few can play both sides,
Maintain the riddle –
With two wings boys and two wings girls,
And split straight down the middle.
Alas they cannot breed, these ones,
They’re an incidental plus –
When it comes to sexual selection,
It’s the others who choose for us.

Of course, by the time most caterpillar pupate, their parents are long gone. A few butterflies such as the tortoiseshell can hibernate over the Winter, though of course these are the ones which emerged late in the previous year and they don’t mate until the following Spring.

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