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Butterfly populations are a very good indicator of the health of an area's ecosystem !!
Images contributed by U.K
photographer Steve Oddy.
Also known as the Lime Butterfly, the Lemon Butterfly, and the Checkered Swallowtail.
The Lime Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) is a common and very widespread butterfly.
It's widespread range indicates it's tolerance and ability to adapt to diverse habitats.
It can be found in savannahs, fallow lands, gardens, evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, and it shows a preference for streams and riverbeds.
In India, it is mostly found in the plains, but can be found up to 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in the Himilayas. It is common in urban gardens and may also be encountered in wooded country.
It is also a very successful invader.
Its rapid spread appears to be due to its strong flight, as well as increases in urbanization and agricultural land use that opens up new areas for dispersal, and greater availability of food plants.
It is an economic pest on many cultivated citrus species in India, Pakistan, Iraq, and the Middle East. Due to its history of successful dispersal and range extension, the lime butterfly is likely to spread from its original point of introduction in Hispaniola in the Caribbean to neighboring Florida, Central America, and South America.
Due to its capability for rapid population growth under favorable circumstances and its having been recorded to have five generations in a year in temperate regions of China, it is considered a serious potential threat.
The caterpillars can completely defoliate young citrus trees (below 2 feet) and devastate citrus nurseries.
In mature trees, caterpillars may prefer young leaves and leaf flush.
Hand picking caterpillars and spraying with endosulfan 35 EC (2 ml/10 litres of water) were the recommended means of pest control by Indian government agencies and agricultural colleges.
However, endosulfan has since been banned by the Supreme Court of India.
This butterfly is an avid mud-puddler and visitor to flowers.
It basks with its wings held wide open on tufts of grass and herbs, and generally keeps within a meter of the ground, even on cloudy days.
It relies on its quick flight for escape from predation.
It has a number of flight modes.
In the cool of the morning, the flight is slow, giving the appearance that it is an edible and unprotected butterfly.
As the day progresses, it flies faster, and straight, and low.
In the hotter part of the day, it may be found settling on damp patches, where it will remain motionless, if not disturbed, except for an occasional flutter of wings.
It is also a frequent visitor to flowers in gardens, where it shows a preference for flowers of smaller herbs rather than larger plants such as the ubiquitous Lantana with its plentiful blooms.
It can be found swarming in the groves of its food plants.
Caterpillar diet: citrus tree foliage
Adult diet: the nectar of any flowering plant.
Avg. wingspan: 80–100 mm / 3.15 – 4 “
Research on freshly emerged adults shows that they have an inborn and spontaneous preference for feeding on blue and purple colors, while the yellow, yellowish-green, green, and blue-green are virtually ignored.
Unlike most swallowtails, it does not have a prominent tail.
Also, when the adult stage is considered, the lime swallowtail is the shortest living butterfly, with male adults dying after four days and females after a week.
Their dorsal background color is black.
A broad, irregular yellow band is found on the dorsal wings, which is broken in the case of the forewing.
Also, the butterfly has a large number of irregular spots on the wing.
The dorsal hindwing has a red tornal spot with blue edging around it.
The single biggest threat to butterfly survival is habitat destruction!!
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