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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Common Mormon
Papilio polytes  LINNAEUS, 1758
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
subfamily - PAPILIONINAE
Tribe - PAPILIONINI
Papilio polytes romulus form theseus, Mahanada Forest, West Bengal, India Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
There are about 60 species of Papilio in the Oriental region, and 210 species worldwide.
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 the Oriental region from India and Sri Lanka to west China and the Philippines. It ranges south through Thailand and West Malaysia to Sumatra and Borneo.

Papilio polytes romulus form cyrus, Ultapani, Assam, India Adrian Hoskins

Habitats
This species is found in rainforest, semi-deciduous woodland, thorn scrub, beach hinterlands, parks and gardens. It can be found at altitudes between sea level and about 1000m.
Lifecycle
The larval foodplants include Citrus, Clausena, Fortunella, Glycosmis, Zanthoxylum, Toddalia, Aegle, Murraya, Triphasia, Euodia, Atalantia and Poncirus ( Rutaceae ).
Adult behaviour

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.

Papilio polytes romulus form cyrus, Ultapani, Assam, India Adrian Hoskins

 

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