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The Common Mormon Butterfly

Updated on July 7, 2011

Common Mormon Butterfly

Male Common Mormon Butterfly
Male Common Mormon Butterfly | Source

Where you can find the Common Mormon Butterfly

A markerSoutheast Asia -
get directions

Common Mormon Butterfly

The Common Mormon also goes by Papilio Polytes.  This is different from the Scarlet Mormon butterfly though they do have some similarities. They both come from Family Papilionidae, which are Swallowtails or Birdwings. 

The sparkling iridescence that is on some of these beauties, is just beautiful.  It shows up on the black colored parts of the wing, and when the sun is shining just right, really sparkles. 

Some basic information Common Mormon Butterflies

These butterflies are about 4 inches across, and the shape of the wings is so unique, that it is my main way to identify the common mormon.  The adult butterflies eat flower nectar for sustenance, and they are naturally from Southeast Asia. This butterfly commonly goes by the term Mormon, though I have yet to find out why the name Mormon is there at all. If you happen to know the answer to this, I would love to learn it and add it to my information on this butterfly. 

Mormons and Black Swallowtails

The name "mormon" is actually rather common for black swallowtails that often have "tails" on their hindwings. It is interesting to note that the different sexes in these butterflies show different coloring with the male being the less colorful of the two. So often in nature we see it the other way around, say with birds or other animals or insects. It is the females that display some of the red on their hindwings. The males display the white bands that you see, and both male and female do not have any red on the actual slender body part of the butterfly. The butterfly at the top and shown here to the right are good examples of male common mormons.

I thought it was interesting to find out that with the females, there are many subspecies. There are 15 subspecies to be exact found within the females at this time. Of these, some have the the very obvious "tails" on their wings, while others do not.

One built in safety feature for a couple of types of these females is that they mimic some poisonous swallowtails that also are from the same Southeast Asia area.  The two they are mimicking are called the crimson rose swallowtail (Pachliopta hector), and common rose swallowtail (or Pachliopta aristolochia). 

The Common Mormon butterfly is known as a strong flier.  It is not odd to find them near orange groves lime plantations.  This is because these help provide food for the larvae.  You can find males hovering above the beautiful smelling blossoms on a sunny day.  That, I would love to see and video or capture with my camera. 

I love how the sunlight shows through the wings

© 2010 Paula


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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Well thank you very much for your comment about the "many wives," and it makes sense! Was curious how it tied in exactly, so thank you. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment here.

    • profile image

      Anon 5 years ago

      The answer to your namign question is found in the paragraph about the number of female subspecies. It is a reference to the early Mormon practice of polygamy, i.e. "many wives".

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thanks Phoenix!

    • PhoenixV profile image

      PhoenixV 7 years ago from USA

      Excellent hub!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      So glad to share it, and thank you for the comment CMHypno!

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I had never heard of Mormon butterflies before, oceansnsunsets, so thanks for introducing me!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      That is awesome Peggy and so lucky for you. I would love to see them in my backyard! Thank you for the comment.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have had this butterfly in our backyard and I have also gotten pictures of it. It really is beautiful. Thanks for this information about it.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you Pamela!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Another beautiful butterfly and they are all so beautiful. I like knowing the different facts about them as well.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      So glad to hear that Flobe, and thank you!

    • FloBe profile image

      FloBe 7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Once again, enjoyed learning about another butterfly...thanks!