Overview

Comprehensive Description

Summary

"Graphium sarpedon, commonly called the Common Bluebottle, is a swift-flying butterfly, with a bright blue band visible even in flight, common in even human habitations. The common English name of this species is probably derived from Sarpedon, the king of Lycia in Ancient Greek mythology."
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Physical Description

Morphology

"The wings are black above and brown below, with large turquoise patches in the middle of both fore and hind wings. These patches seem to form a triangle, with the apex pointing towards the body. The underside of the wings are similarly marked with turquoise patches, and each hind wing has some red dots on its underside."
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Size

Wingspan 80-90 mm.
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Diagnostic Description

SubSpecies Varieties Races

"Graphium sarpedon teredon (Linnaeus, 1758) Graphium sarpedon sarpedon Linnaeus, 1758 – Oriental Common Bluebottle"
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

"Moist, low-land rain forests (below 1600 m/5000 feet)."
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Scales enhance wing color: swordtail butterfly
 

Scales on the ventral side of swordtail butterfly wings enhance blue/green coloring via light reflection and diffusion.

     
  "The wings of the swordtail butterfly Graphium sarpedon nipponum  contain the bile pigment sarpedobilin, which causes blue/green  colored wing patches. Locally the bile pigment is combined with  the strongly blue-absorbing carotenoid lutein, resulting in green  wing patches and thus improving camouflage. In the dorsal forewings,  the colored patches lack the usual wing scales, but instead  have bristles. We have found that on the ventral side most of  these patches have very transparent scales that enhance, by  reflection, the wing coloration when illuminated from the dorsal  side. These glass scales furthermore create a strongly polarized  iridescence when illuminated by obliquely incident light  from the ventral side, presumably for intraspecific signaling. A  few ventral forewing patches have diffusely scattering, white scales  that also enhance the blue/green wing coloration when observed  from the dorsal side." (Stavenga et al. 2010:1731)

  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Stavenga DG; Giraldo MA; Leertouwer HL. 2010. Butterfly wing colors: glass scales of Graphium sarpedon cause polarized iridescence and enhance blue/green pigment coloration of the wing membrane. Journal of Experimental Biology. 213: 1731-1739.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Graphium sarpedon

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 14
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Graphium sarpedon

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Common
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Wikipedia

Graphium sarpedon

Graphium sarpedon, commonly known as the Common Bluebottle or Blue Triangle (Australia), is a species of swallowtail butterfly, that is found in South and Southeast Asia, as well as parts of Australia. There are approximately sixteen subspecies with differing geographical distributions.

Description[edit]

Ventral surface of wings visible, in Mudumalai, India
See glossary for terms used

Upperside opaque black. Fore and hind wings crossed from above the tornal area on tho hind to near the apex of the fore wing by a semi-hyaline broad pale blue medial band which is broadest in the middle, more or less greenish and macular anteriorly; the portion of the band that crosses interspaces 6, 7 and 8 on the hind wing white; beyond the band on the hind wing there is a sub-terminal line of blue slender lunules. Underside similar, ground-colour dark brown. Hind wing: a short comparatively broad sub-basal band from costa to sub-costal vein, and the postdiscal area between the medial blue band and the sub-terminal lunules velvety black traversed by the pale veins and transversely, except in interspaces 6 and 7, by narrow crimson lines; lastly, a crimson spot near the tornal angle with an admarginal yellowish-white spot below it. Antenna, head, thorax and abdomen brown, the head and thorax suffused with greenish grey; beneath: the palpi, thorax and abdomen touched with dingy white, the abdomen with two whitish lateral lines.

Male has abdominal fold within grey, furnished with a tuft of long, somewhat stiff white hairs.[1]

Race teredon, Felder. (South India and Sri Lanka) is distinguishable in both sexes by the narrower medial band that crosses both fore and hind wing. Colour brighter, the contrast between the green of the upper and the blue of the lower portion of the medial band more vivid. Hind wing more produced posteriorly at apex of vein 3, where it forms an elongate tooth or short tail.

Variously reported with wingspans between 55 and 75 mm, the Common Bluebottle has black upper wings and brown lower wings. Both fore and hind wings are marked by a central spot in the form of a blue or blue-green triangle, with apex pointing toward the body.

Habitat[edit]

Graphium sarpedon is primarily an inhabitant of moist, low-level rain forests (below 1600 m/5000 feet). In these elevations it is usually seen flying just above the tree canopy. The larvae of the Common Bluebottle feed on trees of the laurel family, which includes the cinnamon tree, and have expanded their range to include cinnamon tree plantations. In eastern Australia, they have adapted to a drier subtropical environment, and are commonly seen in suburban gardens in Queensland and New South Wales.

Distribution[edit]

Subspecies G. s. bingham Woodcut from The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma

The known distributions of some of the sixteen recognized subspecies, are as follows:

Subspecies found in India occur in Southern India in the Western Ghats and in the Himalayas from Kashmir in the west to Myanmar.

G. s. milon and G. s. monticolum, however, are not listed here as they are regarded as separate species in a number of works.

Behavior[edit]

Mud puddling near roadside, Akkamalai, Tamil Nadu, India

The males are known for their habit of feeding by the edges of puddles, often at the roadside. Occasionally, as many as eight will be seen at the same puddle. They have also been known to be attracted to animal droppings, carcasses and rotting insects.

It has been recorded as a migrant in South India and is known to mud-puddle during migration. The butterfly has been seen as comprising as much as 5% of the population of migrating butterflies during a 72 hour period in the Nilgiri hills.[2]

The Common Bluebottle is known for quick flight and rapid reactions. Consequently, it is difficult to catch.

Diet[edit]

The adult Common Bluebottle feeds on nectar from a variety of flowering herbs. The larvae feed primarily on the leaves of trees in the families Lauraceae, Myrtaceae, Sapotaceae, and Rutaceae. In particular, G.s. sarpedon and G.s. teredon often feed on leaves of the cinnamon bark tree, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, or of the Indian laurel, Litsea sebifera.

The list of larval food plants also include Alseodaphne semecarpifolia, Cinnamomum camphora, Cinnamomum macrocarpum, Cinnamomum malabathrum,[3] Litsea chinensis, Polyalthia longifolia, Miliusa tomentosa, Persea macrantha and Michelia doltospa.

The larvae of G. s. choredon, native to Australia, feed on many native Australian species of genera Cryptocarya and Litsea; and virtually all subspecies feed on leaves of the camphor tree, Cinnamomum camphora, which is native to China but has been naturalized throughout southeast Asia.

Life cycle[edit]

Egg[edit]

The egg is yellowish, laid singly on the leaves of a host plant.

Larva[edit]

When young, is black or dark green, with numerous spines; when full grown, it is green with a short spines on each thoracic segment and anal segment. There is a transverse yellow band on the 4th segment and a lateral band on the body. The caterpillar usually lies on the centre of a leaf on an upper surface. It is very sluggish and pupates near its feeding spot. " Smooth, thickened from the second to the 5th segment and thence decreasing to the end; with two short subdorsal fleshy spines on the 4th segment, between which is a transverse pale yellow line, two shorter spines also on the 2nd and 3rd and two on the anal segment; colour green, with a longitudinal posterior lateral and lower pale yellowish line." (Frederic Moore quoted in Bingham, 1907)

Pupa[edit]

The pupa is green with a slender and pointed thoractic projection, yellowish wingcases and lateral bands. "Conical, truncated in front; thorax produced into a lengthened obtusely-pointed frontal process." (Frederic Moore quoted in Bingham, 1907)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bingham, C. T. (1907) The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Butterflies. Volume 2.
  2. ^ Mathew, G.; Binoy, C.F. (2002). "Migration of butterflies (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) in the New Amarambalam Reserve Forest of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve". Zoos' Print Journal 17 (8): 844–847. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.17.8.844-7. 
  3. ^ Kunte, K. 2006. Additions to known larval host plants of Indian butterflies. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 103(1):119-120

General reading[edit]

  • Krushnamegh Kunte (2005) Butterflies of Peninsular India. Universities Press.
  • Meena Haribal (1994) Butterflies of Sikkim Himalaya and their Natural History.
  • W.H. Evans (1932) The Identification of Indian Butterflies, 2nd Ed. Bombay Natural History Society, Madras
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