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Common Rose Swallowtail

Common Rose Swallowtail
Photo Information
Copyright: Ram Thakur (ramthakur) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4316 W: 231 N: 14052] (56953)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-08-16
Categories: Insects
Camera: Nikon D200, Sigma 70-300 4-5.6 APO DG MACRO, 58mm UV
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/160 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Butterfly Encyclopedia [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-08-23 20:02
Viewed: 5940
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 54
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Common Rose [Atrophaneura (Pachliopta) aristolochiae] is a swallowtail butterfly belonging to the Pachliopta subgenus, the Roses, of the genus Atrophaneura or Red-bodied Swallowtails. It is a common butterfly which is extensively distributed across South and South East Asia.


It is widely distributed in Asia. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India(includes Andaman islands) , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan (south-western Okinawa only), Laos, Vietnam, Kampuchea(now Cambodia), Nicobar islands, peninsular and eastern Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines (Palawan and Leyte), Indonesia.
In China, it is distributed in southern and eastern China (including Hainan, Guangdong province), Hong Kong and Taiwan. In Indonesia, it is distributed in Sumatra, Nias, Enggano, Bangka, Java, Bali, Kangean, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Tanahjampea and Kalimantan.


Very common almost all over the plains of India, and not threatened as a species. Extremely abundant during and after the monsoon.


The Upperside of male is velvety black.
Fore wing with well-marked pale adnervular streaks on the discal area that do not reach the terminal margin, the latter broadly velvety black; the streaks beyond end of cell extended inwards into its apex.
Hind wing with elongate white discal markings in interspaces 2-5 beyond the cell.
In dry-weather specimens these markings are very short and do not nearly reach the bases of the interspaces; beyond these a curved series of subterminal lunular markings in interspaces 1 to 7 dull crimson irrorated with black scales, the spot in interspace 1 large, irregular, diffuse, margined interiorly with white.
On the Underside of the males, the ground-colour and markings is similar, but the red subterminal spots on the hind wing much brighter; it is not irrorated with black scales, better defined, the anterior four subquadrate, the next two crescentic, sometimes quadrate also, the spot in interspace 1 triangular and pointed. Antennae, thorax and abdomen above up to the preanal segment black; the head, sides of prothorax above, and of the whole of the thorax and abdomen beneath vermilion-red; anal segment vermilion-red.
Female is similar the males; they differs from the male only in the comparatively broader wings and this is most conspicuous in the fore wing.


An excellent generalist which has adapted to a range of habitats, the butterfly has been found in congregations at lower elevations. The Common Rose is found up to 8000 feet in the Western Ghats and South Indian Hills, up to 5000 feet at the Eastern end of the Himalayas but only up to 3000 feet in the North West Himalayas. The butterfly is a common visitor to Indian gardens and can even be found in crowded urban areas.


It is the commonest of the large tailed butterflies of India and one of the most interesting butterflies for the Indian amateur naturalist to observe.
The red body, slow peculiar flight, bright coloration and pattern of the wings are meant to indicate to predators that this butterfly is inedible, being well protected by the poisons it has sequestered from its larval food plant. It also emits a nasty smelling substance when handled to further enhance its unappealing qualities. Hence it is rarely attacked by predators, a strategy so successful, that edible butterflies have evolved to mimic it, the classical example being that of the female morph of the Common Mormon that is Papilio polytes, female form stichius.
The Common Rose frequently visits flowers such as Lantana, Cosmos, Zinnia, Jatropha and Clerodendron. The butterfly occasionally also visits wet patches. In parts of Sri Lanka, the males are known to congregate and form a beautiful sight while mud-puddling.
The Common Rose is active much earlier in the mornings than most butterflies and remains so throughout the day until dusk. It flies just as readily in the shade as in the sun, and frequently visits flowers.
In drier regions around noon, the butterfly rests in thickets to avoid the mid-day heat. Here, it will rest and ventures forth only in the late afternoon once again.
In the evenings, it retires into wooded areas or thickets in search of dead twigs or small branches on which to roost. It prefers sites that are 10 to 15 feet above ground, below the canopy in trees with sufficient cover from the elements, where it frequently roosts in the company of others of its type, and, sometimes, in the company of the Crimson Rose.
It flies high, slowly and often descends to nectar on flowers below. On such occasions it often dives down with its wings held back, and as it approaches the flower, the wings open up to provide deceleration. The butterfly primarily depends on motive thrust on the powerful flapping of its forewings while the hind wings act as a balancing and steering mechanism. This flying technique gives a rather unusual look to its flight and an observer is left with the impression that it is dragging itself through the air with only the assistance of its forewings.
The Common Rose is often the preferred species to show the amateur naturalist the utility of the tails in steering. This can be most easily observed when the Common Rose hovers over flowers to sip nectar. Then, its forewings beat readily to give it buoyancy while the tails move delicately to steer and adjust its position.
It has been considered in the past that these tails are primarily for deception as in the case of the Lycaenids where the thread-like tails resemble antennae and confuse the attacker as to the location of the head. On occasions, Roses have been observed with damaged tails and it is possible that the presence of swallowtails occasionally does favour the butterfly in confusing attackers.
Collectors over the years have found the red-bodied swallowtails hard to kill. The pinch on the thorax which kills most butterflies is easily withstood, and, apparently only stuns the butterfly temporarily. It recovers quickly and flies out of the net to the utter consternation of the unwary collector.


The female has been observed inspecting Aristolochiae plants and selecting healthy plants with verdant growth to ensure adequacy of food for its voracious caterpillars. It lays round and reddish eggs with fine black markings. The eggs are laid singly on top, the underside of leaves or even on shoots.


The caterpillar is a beautiful velvety maroon colour and has a beautiful white band on a segment on its middle reminiscent of a belt or collar. It has numerous fleshy red-tipped white protuberances on the body. It is bulky and slow in its movements. It is a beautiful caterpillar.


The pupa is brownish with various shades of brown and pink markings. It is attached to its support by the tail and held at an angle by a body band. The support is usually a stick. The distinguishing feature of the Common Rose pupa is the presence of large semi-circular projections on the back of the abdomen, thorax and head.


The larvae feed on creepers and climbers of the genus Aristolochia, Family Aristolochiaceae and they sequester toxins such as aristolochic acid in their bodies. This makes the adults toxic to vertebrate predators such as birds and reptiles.[2] However the Braconid wasps which parasitise the caterpillars have apparently co-evolved with the butterfly and are not affected by the toxins. Larval foodplants include :-
• Aristolochia bracteolata.
• Aristolochia indica.
• Aristolochia tagala.
• Aristolochiae griffithi.
• Thottea siliquosa.


eqshannon, Art_R, crs, Heaven, Alex99, pankajbajpai, siggi, Amadeo, gracious, gannu, cicindela, Janice, uleko, Argus, sranjan, haraprasan, jrobertop, cataclysta, tomszat, vral has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Art_R Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 244 W: 20 N: 839] (3892)
  • [2008-08-23 20:51]

Hi Ram , a good photo of this butterfly , with nice composition detail and color , the out of focus background adds very nice contrast , thanks for sharing it

  • Great 
  • crs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 922] (3551)
  • [2008-08-23 21:08]

Hello Ram,

You did an excelent photo of the butterfly. Dark wings texture is not easy to render correctly. You did it well showing nicely the texture as the DOF is well adapted and all details can be clearly seen. Light has been well used rendering many gray color tones from wings pattern.

Thank you for sharing,

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-08-23 22:18]

Hi Ram.
What a beauty you managed to catch. Amazing wingspread of the insect and POV also as well as the farming and composition of the image. I think the colour reproduction of the butterfly image cannot be better. Sharpness and details also are great. Smooth BG is wonderful and so suitable for your model. Bravo. Well done and my kind regards.

  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2008-08-23 22:19]

Hi Ram!

Thank you for the instructive and very detailed notes, from my point of view they just lack of the personal touch. The picture shows a beautiful butterfly I have never seen before. It seems to be widespread in your country and pleases for its colours. You have put the butterfly very well on stage and present it in a technically perfect manner.

Kind regards


hello sir,
what a lovely shot, you have posted new species in good numbers recently adding to a great collection of Indian Butterflies. Liiks like Goa is a nice place for butterfly lovers.
liked the pov, the composition, the colors and the details captured, a very pleasing shot,
well done,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • batu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1079 W: 293 N: 4497] (16383)
  • [2008-08-23 23:08]

Hello Ram,
nice approach to present this beautiful butterfly. Precise focus and attractive composition.
Background is highly appropriate and forms a nice contrast.
Best wishes, Peter

Hola Ram, buen macro, buena definición y detalles.
Naturales y agradables tonos de color.
Un fondo limpio y bien desenfocado.
Un saludo

Hello Ram,

Very good picture of this Swallowtail. Good focus and sharpness. DOF is perhaps a little bit too short. Beautiful colours and excellent contrast against the vivid green background.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-08-24 0:55]

Hi Ram,
Perfect details from a very good pov. Very good light, sharpness and bg. Great capture!
TFS, Best regards Siggi

Hello Mr.Ram,
Delighted to see such a beautiful posting of the Common Rose!
the bg colour makes the subject really stands out in the image with it's true beauty!
the sharpness is perfect with good colour and details
well done and many thanks for the informative notes
take good care and sincere regards to you and family

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-08-24 2:13]

Hello sir,
Superb view. Lovely shot covering the entire wings. Fantastic sharpness and I feel slightly there is a OOF bottom side of the shot but ignorable. Well done and TFS Ganesh

Hello Ram!
Common Rose is a very nice name for butterfy! Even if it there is no similarity with this flower ;)
Very nice capture showing upper parts of wings and its characteristic. I like also colouration of photo - the choice to show us black insect agains yellow-green BG was very good, thanks to that contrast is very good.
I like also note, very long, with many details and intersting facts from butterfly's biology and ecology. You found even information about parasites!
TFS and have a nice Sunday!
Friendly yours,

Hola Ram, cada vez que veo esta mariposa me entran ganas de ir a tu País; realmente tenéis allí grandes bellezas de la naturaleza. Buen encuadre y muy bien captados los colores . Acertado fondo y correcto encuadre.
Saludos: J. Ignasi

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-08-24 3:12]

Hi Ram
You have captured a good one here. Very good sharpness and superb details under very good lighting. It stands out so beautiful against the soft BG.
Well done

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-08-24 4:24]

Hello Ram,
So this is the right time of year to see Swallowtails in Goa! I've only seen this beauty in butterfly farms. Excellent capture showing it with wide open wings. Great sharpness and beautiful colours too. It stands out very nicely from the soft background too.
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-08-24 4:27]

Hello Ram,
A fine open-wing capture of a Common Rose Swallowtail, well focused in the limited lighting, and well composed against the OOF natural BG.
TFS this beauty and the informative note,
Best regards, Ivan

Hello Ram Sir,
Amazing capure of Goan "feni" than calling it a (Common) rose. The butterfly is truely gorgeous with excellent sharpness, details against fading green BG. Thanks for sharing.

Hello Ram,
You are now classified as an insect and butterfies specialist!
Very good macro again and very useful note
Kind regards

Hi Mr. Ram,
A nice capture of this beautiful common rose. Very well composed with good details. Thanks a lot for sharing.


I saw this last night and marked it with my Use full notes, but left out words.....must be getting senile...if there is such a thing. Another in your ongoing series of butterflies. You so so very well Ram and as always are such a wonderful addition. Even at times when we await the "written word" in diary, we still have your images to let us know that we anticipate with good reason.

Hello Ram.
Wonderful butterfly! Splendid picture!
Nice colors, very good sharpness.
Excellent POV and details.
Unusual in my region.
Well done!
José Roberto

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-08-24 11:51]

Hello Ram,
excellent shot of this butterfly!
The colours are beautiful.
Very sharp and crisp.
Great composition.

Well done,

hello Ram,
spendid composition of this wonder
Common Rose with shape and colors
unique..really pleasant!!

best regards sERGIO

Hello Ram
Interesting POV, beautiful saturated green background. Good sharpness (but maybe you could do a little selective sharpen on head) Also very good composition with butterfly on the right side and of course beautiful butterfly
Best wishes

Hello Ram,
Excellent capture of this beautiful butterfly, I like the POV and composition, very good sharpness and vivid colours, excellent work!
TFS & regards,

  • Great 
  • vral Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 65 W: 1 N: 218] (1049)
  • [2008-08-25 2:56]

Hello Sir,

Excellent capture of this Common Rose with open wings. Black wings are well recorded with fine details.POV,DOF and composition are too good.
Thanks for sharing.

Ciao Ram, superb swallowtail with fantastic colors, wonderful details and splendid sharpness, very well done, bravo, ciao Silvio

Hi Ram

Very nice butterfly, is a great shot.
Thanks for sharing, cheers

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