Living With Color Control

Swallowtail

Common Mormon Swallowtail Female, Stichius Form
Photo: Viren Vaz

Some butterfly species are sexually dimorphic, that is males and females have different color patterns. In the swallowtail butterflies, color pattern dimophism often arises if the female mimics another toxic species and the male retains his original coloration. The Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, is a local example.

An Asian Swallowtail, The Common Mormon Swallowtail female has 3 color morphs; the male has one morph. The most common morph, (Form stichius) mimics the toxic Papilio aristolochiae, the common rose swallowtail in areas where the two overlap. Form “romulus” mimics the crimson rose swallowtail, Pachliopta hector, in parts of the range where the common rose is absent but the crimson rose is present. The most common form is “cyrus”, a form most similar to the male in color. It is considered a non-mimetic form that occurs in areas that lack both of the toxic models.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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