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Southern Birdwing II

Southern Birdwing II
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: 2008-08-17
Categories: Insects
Camera: Nikon D200, Sigma EX 105mm F2.8 DG Macro, 58mm UV
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/400 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-09-06 5:05
Viewed: 6022
Points: 34
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Southern Birdwing (Troides minos) is a large and striking Swallowtail butterfly endemic to Peninsular India. With a wingspan of 140-190mm, it is the largest butterfly found in southern India.
It was earlier considered a subspecies of the Common Birdwing (Troides helena) but is now recognised as a valid species.
The species is more common in the Western Ghats, which is a biodiversity hotspot with a high degree of endemism in many taxa. It is much sought after by collectors and is a highlight of many butterfly-tours in the Western Ghats.


Male and female. Differ from Troides helena cerberus as follows.
Male: Hindwing: the black along the dorsal and terminal margins both on upper and undersides much broader; on the upperside entirely filling interspace 1, on the underside with only a narrow streak of yellow at the angle between the median vein and vein 2; the cone-shaped black markings on the terminal margin shorter and broader; on the costal margin the black is narrower than in cerberus, barely extended below vein 8 except at the base and apex of the wing where it broadens; the abdomen is dull yellow above and below not shaded with black.

Female: Hind wing: the black on the costal margin as in cerberus, but there is always a large yellow spot at base of interspace 7; interspace 1 black, with a pale patch in the middle; the black terminal border broader, the inwardly extended cone-shaped markings prominent, those in interspaces 2 and 3 with pale buff lateral edgings, extended inwards to the post-discal spots. In both male and female the hind wing on the upperside is clothed with soft, silky, long brownish-black hairs from base along the dorsal area.

Expanse: 140-190 mm.

Habitat: Southern India. Bombay to Travancore.

Larva: Roughly cylindrical, tapers a little to each end, with two rows of fleshy processes somewhat curved forwards and a double row on each side that are much shorter. On the 2nd, 3rd and 4th segments an additional long pair between the dorsal and lateral rows. Head smooth and black; body of a uniform dark madder-brown, prettily lighted with a tinge of pink at the points of some of the fleshy processes; dorsal process on the 8th segment and a lateral pair on the 7th pinkish-white, with a band of the same colour uniting them.

Pupa: Suspended by the tail and a band that encircles it much nearer the head than is usual with Papilio pupae. In form stout, flattened, dilated in the middle, with head and thorax thrown back. Head somewhat angular and tuberculated; two of the abdominal segments each with a prominent dorsal pair of pointed tubercles. Colour usually light brown, with a strongly contrasting saddle of old gold. (After Davidson & Aitken) – Mr. T. A. Sealy (Proc. Ent Soc. 1875 p. 9) states- "The pupa possesses the power of making a curious noise like pha-pha! and makes it very loudly when touched; the noise is accompanied (perhaps produced) by a short contraction of the abdominal segments. I thought at first it was merely produced by the rubbing of one ring of the pupa-case against the next, but the sound did not resemble a mere frictional sound, it was more like the sound of a rush of air through small holes. I tried to produce it with a dead chrysalis but failed: the pupa sometimes contracted on being touched without making the noise, and appeared unable to make the noise until some time was given to allow it to recover its vigour." Messrs. Davidson and Aitken have also noticed this power in the pupa, but they speak of it "as a husky squeaking noise, produced apparently by friction of the abdominal rings."


Western Ghats and parts of the Eastern Ghats


The butterfly is locally very common in the southern and central Western Ghats. Also found in southern Maharashtra and northern Goa where it is uncommon. Despite its restricted range and endemicity, the butterfly is not known to be threatened but the IUCN recommends continuous monitoring.


Found up to 3000 feet in the Western Ghats. Found in diverse habitats from low-land evergreen forests near the coast to mixed deciduous forests, dry scrub and agricultural fields.


Active during early morning hours when both sexes feed in the forest on Lantana and diverse food plants. Later on, it is seen sailing as high as 30 to 40 feet over the countryside until it descends later in the evening to feed again. It flies in a leisurely manner circling around jungle clearings and also frequents hill-tops. A determined flier, it is known to cover very large distances before settling. The only food source is nectar; it also visits gardens and orchards and sips from domestic plants such as Mussaenda, Ixora and Lantana.


Though it flies all the year round, it is abundant during Monsoon and Post-Monsoon periods.


Spherical eggs laid singly on the edges of the undersides of young leaves and shoots.


Velvety maroon red with shiny black head and four rows of fleshy bright red tubercles. Grey markings on the back with a broad oblique pink white band on the 7th and 8th segments. These are heavily parasitised by tiny Braconid wasps.


Pale brown or green, marked with fine brown striations and minute markings. Found on the underside of leaves. If touched, it sways and makes hissing sounds.


The larval host plants of these butterflies are small creepers and climbers of the family Aristolochiaceae such as Aristolochia indica, Aristolochia tagala and Thottea siliquosa. The host plant toxins sequestered by the butterfly during its larval stage make it unpalatable to predators. Its flight and bright colouration advertise its unpalatability.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Birdwing

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techranger, uleko, saguzar, Argus, anilnediyara, Seabird, nglen, jrobertop, haraprasan, zulfu, SelenE has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Beautifully taken and processed photo of this striking butterfly. The slight blur of the wing tips enhances the overall excitment and energy of the photograph and the exteme contrasts along with the rich colors increases the dramatic appeal of the image. Wonderful capture and informative notes.


  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-09-06 7:05]

Hello Ram,
Another lovely view of the Swallowtail from South Goa. I love those large fluttering wings, the colours and its pose on a flower I recognise. Excellent details, a fine green background and a very nice composition!
Many thanks and best wishes, Ulla

Hola Ram,
Una interesante foto, que parece estar tomada en condiciones de luz no óptimas. La punta de las alas se ven borrosas tal vez por lo dicho anteriormente y por su movimiento, pero le dan un dinamismo que me gusta.
Un abrazo

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-09-06 7:43]

Hello Ram,
Very beautiful contrasting and clear colours. Wonderful composition. Great sharpness and green BG.
Kind regards,

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-09-06 8:29]

I'm glad you could photograph such striking beauties as this when you were in Goa Ram.
In the winter there not many butterflies at all, but there are lots of birds!
A great capture of the Southern Birdwing with great sharpness, the vibrating wings being shown with the right blur. Excellent composition on the white flower and a pleasing OOF natural BG.
TFS this beauty,
All the best,

Hi Ram,
ACtion macro of a Swallowtail !! the motion blurr on its wings is just great. TFS

Hi, Ram,

excellent colours with beautiful contrast. tfs this beauty.

Man Yee

Hello Mr. Thakur,

One really beautiful flutterby u have there...

u have good forbearance enough to wait for such a beautiful thing to sit long enough to let u take the picture...and i see u havent missed it the change


  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-09-06 11:35]

Hi Ram. Firstly very interesting notes. To go with this beautiful dark colours butterfly with the yellow and red markings , which you have captured with fine detail. The slight blur to the top of the wings gives a sense of movement. well done TFS.

Hello Ram.
Great capture of this exuberant butterfly!
Excellent sharpness and magnificent coloration.
Very good framing and POV.
Congratulations also for the super informative note!
José Roberto


  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-09-06 13:23]

Hello Ram, another beautiful subject and a very good capture of it, well done my friend!


  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2008-09-06 22:47]

Hello Sir Ram, superb shot of this beautiful Southern Birdwing butterfly in all aspects. Great notes too. TFS & Regards,

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-09-06 23:51]

Hi Ram

Great shot - lovely detail and colours throughout,


Thanks for your kind words, Sir.
Nicely captured Southern Birdwing in good view. Beautiful image in a very beautiful perch against the silenced background.

Hi Mr. Ram,
A nice capture of this beautiful southern birdwing butterfly. Very well composed with sharp details and a nice POV. Thanks a lot for sharing.


  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-09-07 8:43]

Hello Sir, This is superb against the BG but seem to be slightly noise but not stopping the beauty. Also I noticed the blur in the wings as it could be because of the wings movement. I like those yellow spots. Ganesh

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-09-09 23:42]

Hi Ram,
What a beautiful butterfly with great patterns and colors. It's a well composed photo with good POV and details. TFS

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