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Male Crimson Rose on Stachytaphaeta indica
A beautiful black swallowtail with white and crimson colored markings. Wingspan of 85-115 mm. Though the sexes are similar, the male is more brightly colored and has a forewing that is much narrower. The body is velvety black with bright crimson markings - a warning coloration that advertises its distasteful and toxic properties to its predators. This phenomenon is referred to as aposematism and is widely encountered in many other organisms including fish and snakes. These colour combinations have evolved overtime to instruct predators that individuals having these bright contrasting color combinations are highly undesirable as sources of food.
Common Mormon form Romulus - It has none of the bright crimson and velvety black markings on the abdomen, thorax or the wings.
Common Rose - It is smaller butterfly than the Crimson Rose and displays white markings on the upperside at the center of the hind wing. It does not have the deep crimson markings of the Crimson Rose.
Status, distribution and habitat
It is a common and widely distributed butterfly throughout the island at lower elevations, up to 2000 feet. In the wet zone, it is never numerous and is not as plentiful as its close relative, the Common Rose. It is found almost everywhere, in scrub jungle, edges of forests, forest glades, farms, home gardens and waste places.
Its flight and behavior are very similar to those of the Common Rose.
The eggs are laid singly on leaves of Aristolochia indica. The poisonous aristolochic acids found in this plant are assimilated by the larva into its haemolymph and are subsequently transferred to the adults through the pupa, allowing the adult to lead a life without harassment. The larvae are quite sluggish in all stages of development - an effect of handling all those toxins?! However, they are not immune to all predators and are still eaten by Oecophylla ants or parasitic wasps.
Larva on Aristolochia indica
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