Common Banded Peacock
Papilio crino, Fabricius

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Common Banded Peacock

Wingspan of 80-100mm. A gorgeous green and blackish-brown swallowtail. The sexes are similar. The bands on the upper surface of both wings are a brilliant blue green when viewed from top but appear a dark blue when viewed from the sides. There is considerable seasonal variation in the size of the blue-green band in both sexes; the one on the male is usually broader than the one on the female. The underside is dark brown to blackish brown in color.

Similar species

Status, distribution and habitat
It is principally an insect of the low country dry zone forests and scrub jungle where it used to be very common. Its numbers have declined considerably in recent times due to the extensive felling of satinwood trees for timber, which is the only known larval food plant for this species in the island. It avoids home gardens, cultivated areas and open plains, but may be seen flying through them during migrations. It ascends the hills to at least 1500 feet but is scarce above this elevation. It is commonest during the north east monsoon. The male is far more abundant than the female.

It flies in and out of scrub jungle in which it lives with effortless ease. However, in wide open spaces, it flies fast and high, and out of reach. It is a nectar lover and prefers the flowers of tall shrubs and small trees rather than those of annuals. Always in a hurry to move on, it spends little time on a flower. Eupatorium, which is so well liked by many other swallowtails, is not one of its favorites. The male is occasionally attracted to wet soil or gravel.   

Early stages
The larva feeds on Chloroxylon swietenia, a very large tree that attains heights of 60-70 feet and whose lowest branches start 15 to 25 feet above the ground. To avoid predation high up in the tree, the female quickly lays a single egg on the underside of the selected leaf, and then flies away, minimizing her chances of being caught. Unlike most other swallowtails, the female does not slow down and flutter around the plant looking for a suitable site to lay her eggs.

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