Thailand, Malaysia & Borneo
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - LEPTOCIRCINI
Graphium sarpedon luctatius, males, Taman Negara, West
© Adrian Hoskins
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.
species such as the African policenes
have very long sword-like tails. Some of the Oriental species e.g.
and certain races of agamemnon have
short tails, but in others including sarpedon,
eurypylus the tails are greatly reduced or absent.
Graphium sarpedon is
the most widespread and common of the Oriental species, found from
India and Sri Lanka to China and Japan; and from Malaya to Borneo,
Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Bali, New Guinea, eastern Australia, and
the Solomon Islands.
Graphium sarpedon luctatius, male, Taman Negara, West
© Adrian Hoskins
This species occurs in almost all forested habitats at altitudes
between sea level and at least 1400m but is much more abundant at
lower altitudes. It can also be seen in many towns and cities where
its foodplant Cinnamomum is grown as an
The eggs are spherical, yellowish, and laid singly on the younger
more tender leaves of the larval foodplants, often on saplings or
sucker growth around the base of the trees.
The foodplants used
vary according to country and location, and include
Neolitsea ( Lauraceae ), Annona,
Melodorum ( Annonaceae ), Planchonella
( Sapotaceae ), and Doryphora (
The fully grown larva is dull green in colour, dappled with yellow
and darker green, and has a thin cream lateral stripe. On each of
the thoracic segments there is a pair of short black spikes, those
on the 3rd segment being connected by a prominent yellow band. There
is also a pair of very short white spikes on the anal segment.
wedge-shaped chrysalis is pale green with pale lateral and dorsal
stripes which converge at the tip of the thoracic horn. It is
attached vertically by the cremaster and a silken girdle to a stem
or to the underside of a leaf.
Graphium species are generally more
robust than their relatives in Papilio,
and have a stronger and more purposeful flight.
Graphium sarpedon in particular is noted for its agility and
speed in flight.
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 obtain essential minerals to replace
those lost during sperm transfer. The males
in groups of up to 50 individuals, often aggregating with other
Papilionid species such as Graphium evemon
and Pathysa antiphates. These
aggregations are a common sight along the sandy shores of certain
black-water rivers in Malaysia, but are much less frequent at
As with other
sarpedon males adopt the "filter-feeding" technique - using
their proboscises to continually suck up water from which they extract
sodium and other minerals. They constantly pump the water through
their bodies, expelling the surplus from the anus, and using it to
dissolve further minerals from the ground, which they re-imbibe.
feeding on the ground the wings are normally held erect, but kept
constantly quivering. It is common to find that almost all the
butterflies in an aggregation face in the same direction - into the
wind. The wing shape, translucent "windows" and posture of the
aggregating butterflies conjures up an image of a flotilla of tiny