November 4th, 2012


Great Mormon

The Great Mormon (Papilio memnon) is a large butterfly that belongs to the swallowtail family and is found in southern Asia. It is widely distributed and has thirteen subspecies. The female is polymorphic and with mimetic forms.

Status Common and not threatened. The cultivation of Citrus plants all over Southern Asia has ensured this.
Description The butterfly is large with 120 to 150 mm span. It has four male and many female forms, the females being highly polymorphic and many of them being mimics of unpalatable butterflies. This species has been studied extensively for understanding the genetic basis for polymorphy and Batesian mimicry. As many as twenty-six female forms are reported.
Habitat Flies up to 2,100 m (6,900 ft) in the Himalayas, but is most common at low elevations.
Behavior This butterfly is found in forest clearings. It is very common and is also seen amongst human habitation. It is fond of visiting flowers of Poinsettia, Jasminum, Lantana, Canna, and Salvia. It usually flies 2 to 4 metres above the ground. The butterfly is known to mud-puddle. The males are much commoner than females. The female forms butlerianus and alcanor are especially uncommon.
Life Cycle The larva resembles that of the Common Mormon, being green with whitish markings. It is heavily parasitised.