Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - PAPILIONINI
Papilio polytes Sichuan,
China © Tony Hoare
are about 215 species of Papilio
Papilio polytes is palatable to
insectivorous birds and produces several different female forms
which mimic unpalatable Atrophaneura
swallowtails. These mimetic forms include
romulus f. polytes which is a
near perfect double of Atrophaneura hector,
and romulus f.
theseus which is a superb mimic of
Atrophaneura aristolochiae. Birds are unable to distinguish
between mimic and model, and having had the unpleasant experience of
tasting an Atrophaneura will reject the
near identical but perfectly edible polytes. For
human observers distinguishing between the two genera is easy though
because polytes has an all-black head
and body, while in Atrophaneura species
these are red.
Papilio polytes is found across most of
tropical and temperate Asia from India and Sri Lanka to west China
and the Philippines. It ranges south through Thailand and Malaysia
to Sumatra and Borneo.
This species is found in
rainforest, semi-deciduous woodland, thorn scrub, beach hinterlands,
parks and gardens. It can be found at altitudes between 0-1000m.
foodplants include Citrus,
Poncirus ( Rutaceae ).
In the early morning the
butterflies fly low over the ground, and settle to bask for long
periods on low vegetation, with their wings outspread. Later in the
day as temperatures rise they become very active. Both sexes will
nectar at Lantana and a wide variety of
other wild and cultivated flowers.