Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and survive winters. The Melissa Arctic (Oeneis melissa) overwinters twice as a caterpillar. Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.
Courtship is often aerial and often involves pheromones. Butterflies then land on the ground or on a perch to mate.Copulation takes place tail-to-tail and may last from minutes to hours. Simple photoreceptor cells located at the genitals are important for this and other adult behaviors. The male passes a spermatophore to the female; to reduce sperm competition, he may cover her with his scent, or in some species such as the Apollos (Parnassius) plugs her genital opening to prevent her from mating again.