Scientists have investigated the relationship between pollinating butterflies and plants and found that they have not changed over millions of years.

Biologists at the University of Washington in St. Louis have used statistical methods to trace the relationship between ancient butterflies and the plants they pollinate.

The new study shows for the first time that butterfly-plant relationships have not changed over millions of years, said first author Mariana Pires Braga, a research assistant in Michael Landis’s lab.

To model how the relationship between butterflies and plants develops, they used data on the origin and evolutionary paths of 66 genera of Pieridae and 33 families of angiosperms.

We know that this relationship is the result of a long co-evolutionary history.

Mariana Pires Braga, first author of the work

In the new work, the authors made statistical models that reconstruct conclusions about co-evolutionary history that occurred millions of years ago. New computational and statistical methods assign a different level of probability to each version of the relationship between butterflies and pollinators so that scientists can choose the most likely ones.

The authors found that there is a long-standing relationship in the relationship between butterflies and plant types. This is a kind of memory mechanism in which butterflies increase the number of host plants they pollinate, this can happen even after millions of years without pollination. This behavior increases their chances of survival.