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On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

Under Lock and Key

Good news for folks who lament the demise of chastity belts: the devices are still quite popular in the insect world.

The purpose of a chastity belt, remember, was to prevent intercourse. A sphragis accomplishes the same feat. What's a sphragis? The white pouch hanging from the abdomen of a Phoebus Parnassian butterfly -- a female Phoebus Parnassian, to be precise. The male of the species secretes it while mating -- it contains sperm and some nutrients -- and the substance hardens upon contact with the air.

Once in place, the sphragis keeps the female from mating again. Yet it doesn't interfere with flying or with the laying of eggs.

Click here to learn more about the Phoebus Parnassian.