Papilio polytes - female
Common Mormon Swallowtail Butterfly
The Common Mormon, Papilio polytes, is a common species of swallowtail butterfly widely distributed across Asia. This butterfly
is known for the mimicry displayed by the numerous forms of its females which mimic inedible Red-bodied Swallowtails,
such as the Common Rose and the Crimson Rose.
Jet black butterfly with row of white spots along the middle part of hindwing. 90-100 mm. This is a very common species
and is not threatened. Interestingly, this species has considerable genetic variability and is known to produce
gynandromorphs, genetic aberrations which are part male and part female.
The picture above is of the female form stichius.
The female of the Common Mormon is polymorphic. In South Asia, it has three forms or morphs. These are as follows :-
a) Form CYRUS
This form is similar to the male, differing in that it always has strongly marked red crescents. It is the least common
of the three forms. It is normally abundant where the Common Rose or Crimson Rose do not occur, such as in
Himachal Pradesh around Shimla; although a few specimens of form romulus have also been caught alongside.
b) Form STICHIUS
This female form of the Common Mormon mimics the Common Rose very closely.
This is the commonest form wherever the Common Rose flies.
c) Form ROMULUS
This female form mimics the Crimson Rose and is common over its range. It is not such a close mimic as the previous
form being duller than its model, the Crimson Rose. It is easy to differentiate the mimics from models by the
colour of their body - the models are red-bodied and the mimics are black-bodied.
Form SAKONTALA - a Subhimalayan distribution
Male upperside:- dull, somewhat brownish black. Fore wing very sparingly irrorated with yellowish scales,
that form ill-defined cellular and internervnlar streaks. Hind wing with a discal series of very diffuse
greenish-white spots in interspaces 1 to 7 and an ill-defined tornal reddish lunule; the spots in interspaces
5 and 6 are the most diffuse, and beyond the whole series there is a postdiscal slight irroration of whitish scales.
Underside:- fore wing opaque dark brown, the internervular streaks broader, more prominent than on the upperside.
Hindwing black; the discal series of elongate spots dingy white, larger and more clearly defiued than on the
upperside, followed by a large tornal more or less vermilion-red spot with a black centre and a subterminal
series of similarly-coloured lunules; the discal spot in interspace 2 bordered outwardly by an outwardly-curved
lunule. Cilia black alternated with white. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen black. Female unknown.
Male -- The males are smaller in size than the females.
The male has one morph only. It is a dark-coloured swallow-tailed butterfly. The upper forewing
has a series of white spots decreasing in size towards the apex. The upper hindwing has a
complete discal band of elongated white spots. It may or may not have marginal red crescents.
The Common Mormon prefers lightly wooded country, but is present everywhere and high up into
the hills. It is a regular visitor to gardens, being especially abundant in orchards of its
foodplants - oranges and limes. It is most common in the monsoon and post-monsoon months.
Information source: http://www.treknature.com/gallery/photo111546.htm
All images © 2003-2018 by dick Burwell. Do not copy, download, or link. All rights reserved. (TinEye Tracking in Use)