Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - PAPILIONINI
Heraclides anchisiades, Satipo, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
The Papilionidae is
comprised of about 600 known species. They are found throughout the
world in almost every environment including deserts, mountains,
grasslands, tropical rainforests, temperate woodlands, meadows,
marshes and coastal dunes.
There are 3 subfamilies.
The Parnassiinae consists of about 50 species. They are known as
Apollos and breed mainly in mountainous areas of the northern
hemisphere. The Papilioninae comprises of about 550 species
distributed across the world, and includes the Swallowtails and
Dragontails, and the giant Birdwings of south-east Asia. The other
subfamily Baroniinae consists of a single species
Baronia brevicornis which is endemic to
the mountains of western Mexico.
Heraclides comprises of 28 species, and
is the neotropical "sister" genus of the Holarctic
Papilio, to which the European
Swallowtail Papilio machaon, and the
North American Black Swallowtail Papilio
polyxenes belong. Some of the
Heraclides species are marked with cream spots and bands, and
have obvious affinities with their Holarctic counterparts. Others
including anchisiades and the female of
Parides mimics, with bright pink patches on their hindwings.
Heraclides anchisiades is a very common and widespread
species, found from Texas to Paraguay.
This species is found in
many different habitats including tropical rainforest, cloudforest,
humid deciduous forest, orchards and suburban zones at altitudes
between sea level and about 1400m.
The eggs are yellow and
laid in clusters of up to 40 on the leaves of the foodplants which
Citrus ( Rutaceae ).
caterpillars of all Papilionidae bear tubercules when in their first
instar. In some genera such as Heraclides
and Eurytides these are absent in the
mature larva, but in others such as Troides,
Parides they develop into soft fleshy knobs or hooks. Many
are very colourful, with bright green bodies adorned with orange or
red tubercules, while others such as
Heraclides are dull in colour and similar in appearance to a
Papilionidae caterpillars are equipped with an extrusible forked
appendage called an osmaterium which is situated behind the head.
This organ is everted if the caterpillar is molested, and gives off
a noxious pheromone containing isobutyric acid, which is used as a
defence against ants.
pupa is dull brown and resembles a twig. It is attached by the
cremaster and a silken girdle, in an upright position, to a stem.
butterflies are only active in bright sunshine. Both sexes will visit
Lantana and the flowers of many trees and
shrubs, but males are much more commonly
on river beaches and dry river beds, imbibing mineralised moisture.
They are usually seen singly, but sometimes several gather together,
usually amidst aggregations of Nymphalids and Pierids.
feeding either at flowers or on the ground, the wings are kept
constantly fluttering - a feature common to Swallowtails throughout
the world. After several minutes, if undisturbed, they eventually
relax and fully outspread their wings.