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Common Mormon

Papilio polytes  Linneaeus,1758

Scientific classification
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Arthropoda
Class : Insecta
Order : Lepidoptera
Family : Papilionidae
Genus : Papilio
Species : P. polytes
Binomial name

Papilio polytes  Linneaeus,1758

  Papilio polytes Romulus, Cramer
Status in Sri Lanka
  Common Resident
  80 - 115 mm
Host plant
  Plant members belonging to family Rutaceae such as Citrus and the curry leaf plant.
Nectaring Plants
  short herbs and shrubs with long corollar tubes such as; Lantana, Jatropha, Ixora and Mussaenda in cities and Asystasia, Peristrophe and Jasminum in forested areas.
Similar species
  • Common Rose ♂♀ (♀ resembles)

  • Crimson  Rose ♂♀ (♀ resembles)
    free counters
      It is found from North western India to Singapore.  
    Color/ pattern  
    Male ♂   Female ♀
    It has one morph only being jet black with a row of creamy spots stretching across the hind wings and through the outer margins of the forewings.The upper forewing has a series of white spots decreasing in size towards the apex. It may or may not have marginal red crescents.  

    It is polymorphic having three forms such as ; cyrus, stichius and romulus

    The typical female form, cyrus, resembles the male but paler in color having strongly marked red crescents. The form stichius mimics the unpalatable Common Rose. The third form, romulus, mimics the unpalatable Crimson Rose but dull in color when compared.

    Identification characters of sexes  
      The males are smaller in size than the females.  
      These butterflies are found all over the island up to an elevation of 2500 feet in the whole year round especially in Monsoon months. This species occurs in many habitats, but prefers those providing a mix of lightly wooded, open spaces. They are rarely seen high up in the canopy but are regular visitors to gardens  

    It flies fast in a zigzag manner within a few feet above ground and it is a rather restless butterfly but are seen settled when nectaring.  It is common to see them fly hurriedly from one bush to another. They mimic its similar species by flying slowly and leisurely in their search for nectar, mates or larval host plants. Only the males take part in mud puddling, usually in cool shaded spots rather than in open areas in order to collect saline soils to extract minerals.

    Both sexes bask in the sun on shrubs close to the ground. They hold their wings flat against the substratum. It spend the night settled on vegetation with their wings held open, usually quite close to the ground.

    Mechanisms to overcome threats  
    Ovum (Eggs)   Larvae (Caterpillar)
        The first few instars of it resemble bird droppings and this helps them escape predation while remaining in moderately open places.
    Pupa (Chrysalis)   Imago (Winged Adult)
    It is located on underside of leafs and twigs.   Especially the females mimic its similar species which are unpalatable models, so the predators will avoid them.
    Ovum (Eggs)
    Size :
    It is globular and smooth.
    Number :
    The eggs are laid singly on top of the leaves.
    Color :
    It is yellowish brown.
    Time duration :

    Season :

    Larvae (Caterpillar)
    Size :
    Shape :
    Its head is tapered, the segments immediately following broad high and arched.
    Color :

    They are yellow-olive greenish with a bright white spiracular band at first. There is transverse black marking on the 4th and 5th segments. Later it becomes dark green in colour.

    Time duration :
    Season :


    Pupa (Chrysalis)
    Size :
    Shape :
    It has two projections to the front on its head and also one on its thorax and the wing cases are not sharply curved.
    Color :
    Later stages it becomes color variations between brown to green and unmarked.
    Time duration :
    Season :
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