Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unexpected visitor: The Five Barred Swordtail

Hey ya'll 

I know I mentioned a couple of days ago that it seems that the swallowtails have not yet returned to our garden this year, but perhaps I spoke to soon for just within the past three days I have counted no less than 8 individual swallowtails inspecting one of our multiple lime plants! The swallowtails themselves are of relatively common and widespread species (Papilio demoleus and papilio polytes) and because of the large quantities of citrus plants I grow, are generally quite numerous and expected during certain times of the year. What was quite unexpected of our butterfly visitors, however, was this particularly attractive one (I could not resist collecting it) which made an appearance yesterday as it fluttered over and settled, most obligingly, on a bougainvillea bush. 

The butterfly in mention is of the family papilionidae, which is perhaps my favorite major group of all the butterflies, and is specifically a five-barred swordtail (Graphium antiphates) which, as it's common name suggests, actually possesses a pair of slender, and rather impressive tails on their hind wings (something this specimen was lacking, unfortunately). They are relatively common and widespread across South East Asia where males can be found in groups sipping precious salts and minerals from river banks but what baffles me most is how this particular individual ended up in my garden (miles away from any forest clearings, rivers and/or streams). In fact, I can say with confidence that this is the first time a butterfly of this particular genus (Graphium) ever found it's way into my garden! A change in their habitat perhaps? But I think I shall monitor my butterfly visitors more closely from now on and see if any more of these wonderful insects show up, before I hazard a guess... or even make any speculations. 


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