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Butterflies of Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Tailed Jay
Graphium agamemnon  LINNAEUS, 1758
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
subfamily - PAPILIONINAE
Tribe - LEPTOCIRCINI

Graphium agamemnon agamemnon, Bukit Tapah, West Malaysia  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The genus Graphium is widespread in the Old World, with 35 species in the Afrotropical region, 14 in the Oriental region, 6 in the Holarctic ( south & west China ) and 20 in the Australian region.
Most of the Oriental and Australasian species are characterised by the presence of a pattern of translucent green, turquoise or yellowish "windows" in their wings. There are a few however such as aristeus from New Guinea and the Oriental species euphrates which are predominantly white, marked with vertical black stripes. Arguably the most beautiful and unusual of all is weiskei from Papua, a tailed species patterned with vivid pink and green on a dark brown ground colour.
Several Graphium species such as the African policenes have very long sword-like tails. Some of the Oriental species e.g. codrus, cloanthus and certain races of agamemnon have short tails, but in others including sarpedon, doson and eurypylus the tails are greatly reduced or absent.
Graphium agamemnon is one of the most widespread species in the genus, being found from India and Sri Lanka to Hong Kong, and through the archipelago to Papua New Guinea, Queensland and the Solomon Islands.
Habitats
This species is found in open habitats including forest clearings, riverbanks and beach hinterlands, at elevations between sea level and about 500 metres.
Lifecycle
The smooth, spherical, pale green eggs are laid singly on the upperside of young leaves of sapling trees in the family Annonaceae. Species used include Ancana, Annona, Cyathostemma, Desmos, Fitzalania, Friesodeilsia, Goniothalamus, Haplostichanthus, Melodorum, Mitrephora, Oncodostigma, Polyalthia ( a widely planted ornamental tree ), Pseuduvaria, Rauwenhoffia, Rollinia, Saccopetalum, Uvaria and Xylopia.
Caterpillars have also been found on Michelia ( Magnoliaceae ) and Cinnamomum ( Lauraceae ).
When young the caterpillar is ochreous-brown, with a white saddle on the rear segments. The anal segment and each of the thoracic segments is adorned with a pair of short multi-branches spines. Throughout its life the caterpillar habitually rests on the upperside of a leaf, along the midrib, and feeds by nibbling large chunks from the tip of the leaf, while leaving the midrib intact. The mature caterpillar is plump, mid green in colour, with small suffused blotches of darker green. The spines by this stage are much reduced, becoming nothing more than a set of tiny black spikes.
The chrysalis is pale green or light brown, with a brown-tipped thoracic horn. It is attached by the cremaster and a silken girdle to the underside of a leaf.
Adult behaviour

Graphium species are generally more robust than their relatives in Papilio and have a stronger and more purposeful flight. In common with other Graphium species, agamemnon males adopt a filter-feeding technique, sucking up water through their proboscises, pumping it out through the anus, and then re-imbibing it. This enables them to extract dissolved minerals, and prevents them from becoming dehydrated in the tropical heat. Both sexes commonly nectar at Lantana.

Prior to mating both sexes can often be seen circling around the tops of flowering trees, using these as assembly points where courtship takes place. After mating, males visit damp sand and gravel to replenish essential minerals lost during sperm transfer. G. agamemnon visits sandbanks and river beaches in much lower numbers then its relative sarpedon - a typical aggregation might consist of 50 sarpedon, 20 doson and just 1 or 2 agamemnon.

 

 

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