Subject: Large black and red butterfly
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
February 28, 2014 3:53 am
I have just found this butterfly in the stairwell of my apartment building in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
It couldn’t find it’s way out and me and my teacher were worried that someone else would kill it. So I got a bowl and some paper and set it free outside. It flew all around the building for a while before we lost track of it.
I have seen this butterfly a few times and I’m just interested in it. Hopefully you can give me an answer.
Signature: Chloe (age 14)
When someone sends us an email that indicates unusual kindness to an insect or other bug, we like to tag that posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award, and your identification request is one of those postings. According to The Flying Kiwi Cambodian bug page: “This is a common rose, a type of swallowtail butterfly. They earn their name from their wide distribution, all the way from Afghanistan to China, and from belonging to the genus Atrophaneura, the red-bodied swallowtails. In this case, the red body indicates to birds and other predators that the butterfly is toxic and distasteful to eat.” Because this species is poisonous, other species have evolved to mimic it, and the Confessions of a Lepidopterist site states: “The red spots on these butterflies [Common Mormons] were actually made to mimic another species of butterfly alltogether. The Crimson Rose butterfly (another one of my favourites) that is poisonous and therefore unedible to birds and other predators. The Common Mormon female (carrying the eggs and thus, the lifeline of the butterfly species) has evolved to mimic the wings of Crimson Rose butterflies thus avoiding being eaten. To the trained eye, however, these two butterflies can be distinguished quite simply. The Crimson Rose, as its name suggests come from the family of red-bodied swallowtails that is to say their bodies are colored a brilliant red, advertising the poison that actualy runs in their blood.” According to TrekNature: “The Common Rose (Atrophaneura (Pachliopta) aristolochiae) is a swallowtail butterfly belonging to the Pachliopta subgenus, the Roses, of the genus Atrophaneura or Red-bodied Swallowtails. It is a common butterfly which is extensively distributed across South and South East Asia.”