De rerum: an acknowlegement and explanation.
INDEX: Linnaean

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Papilio dardanus

On a summers day we would not infrequently see a large cream-coloured butterfly repeatedly patrolling the garden, skilfully manoeuvring through the trees and shrubs. It would be a territorial male Mocker Swallow-tail,   and its flight for all the world resembling a Flying Handkerchief, its other common name.
The attraction of our garden would be some of their food plants: our citrus trees as well as a number of Clausena anisata (horsewood or less politely called perdepis from the strong smell of its crushed leaves.)
The females are more likely to be found resting at a woodland edge sunning their open wings.
The name Mocker because the females come in something like a dozen different forms, quoted as being iconic of female-limited Batesian mimicry. I have only posted four females (and not named them), but these showing a clear resemblance to the distasteful Danaus, Amauris and Acraea.
Here are some references to the genetics, engrailed and invected genes and the "evo-devo" of P. dardanus:
Sean Carroll's book: Endless Forms Most Beautiful.
H. Frederik Nijhout: Polymorphic mimicry in Paplio dardanus...
Rebecca Clark et al: Colour pattern specification in the Mocker Swallowtail...

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