Troides helena

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Common Birdwing
TroidesHelenaCerebrusBingham.jpg
Male
Conservation status
CITES Appendix II (CITES)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Troides
Species: T. helena
Binomial name
Troides helena
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Common Birdwing (Troides helena) is a beautiful and large butterfly belonging to the Swallowtail (Papilionidae family). It is often found in the wildlife trade due to its popularity with butterfly collectors. The butterfly has seventeen subspecies.[1]

Description[edit]

For terms see External morphology of Lepidoptera.

The description of the commonest subspecies of the butterfly in India, T. h. cerberus Felder, is given below:[2]

Male

Upperside of forewings are rich velvety black with adnervular pale streaks on either side of the veins beyond the cell. The cilia is short, black, alternated with pale buffy white in the middle of the interspaces.

Hindwing: the abdominal fold, the apical half obliquely of interspace 1, the termen broadly, the base of the cell and the costal area up to and including the basal half of interspace 7 velvety black, the rest of the wing rich silky yellow; the veins prominently but narrowly black; the inner margin of the terminal black border produced inwards into prominent cone-shaped markings in the interspaces.

All specimens have one or more postdiscal black spots in the interspaces, but never a complete series; in interspace 2 and sometimes also in interspace 3 these spots coalesce with the cone-shaped projections of the terminal black border. Underneath the abdominal fold is a dense mass of buffy-white scented cottony pubescence. Underside similar, the adnervular pale streaks on the fore wing broader and more prominent.

Hindwing: dorsal margin broadly black, with an edging of long soft black hairs; interspace 1 with a large oval postdiscal and a terminal black spot; interspace 2 with the postdiscal black spot generally separate from the cone-shaped projection of the black terminal border; the apical and lateral margins of interspaces 2-6 pale yellow irrorated with black scales.

Antenna, head and thorax black, the collar narrowly crimson; abdomen yellow, shaded above with black; beneath: the thorax with a large lateral patch of crimson, the anal segment prominently buff-coloured.

Female

Upper and under sides of the female is similar to those in the male, but with the following differences:

  • Fore wing: the adnervular pale streaks broader and more prominent.
  • Hindwing: the black at base and along the costal margin broader, occupying fully one-third of the cell, the area above it and above vein 7, interrupted however, in interspace 7 near the apex of wing, by a transverse yellow mark which is sometimes subobsolete ; a postdiscal series of large oval black spots, those in interspaces 2 and 3 often joined on the upperside to the cone-shaped terminal black marks; dorsal margin also more broadly black, without the fringe of black hairs and or course of the abdominal fold. Antenna, head and thorax as in the male; abdomen dark brownish black above.

Subspecies[edit]

PompeopteraCerberusRippon.jpg
  • T. h. antileuca Rothschild, 1908
  • T. h. bunguranensis Ohya, 1982
  • T. h. cerberus (C. & R. Felder, 1865)
  • T. h. demeter Rumbucher & Schäffler, 2005
  • T. h. dempoensis Deslisle, 1993
  • T. h. euthycrates Fruhstorfer, 1913
  • T. h. ferrari Tytler, 1926
  • T. h. hahneli Rumbucher & Schäffler, 2005
  • T. h. heliconoides (Moore, 1877)
  • T. h. hephaestus (Felder, 1865)
  • T. h. hermes Hayami, 1991
  • T. h. hypnos Rumbucher & Schäffler, 2005
  • T. h. isara Rothschild, 1908
  • T. h. mopa Rothschild, 1908
  • T. h. mosychlus Fruhstorfer, 1913
  • T. h. neoris Rothschild, 1908
  • T. h. nereides Fruhstorfer, 1906
  • T. h. nereis (Doherty, 1891)
  • T. h. orientis Parrott, 1991
  • T. h. propinquus Rothschild, 1895
  • T. h. rayae Deslisle, 1991
  • T. h. sagittatus Fruhstorfer, 1896
  • T. h. spilotia Rothschild, 1908
  • T. h. sugimotoi Hanafusa, 1992
  • T. h. typhaon Rothschild, 1908
  • T. h. venus Hayami, 1991

Distribution and Status[edit]

It is a large butterfly found in India. It is widely distributed and locally common in forest areas.

Globally, it is found in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, peninsular and eastern Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Kampuchea, Thailand, Vietnam, southern China including Hainan, and Hong Kong.[1] In the Indonesian archipelago, the Common Birdwing is found in Sumatra, Nias, Enggano, Java, Bawean, Kangean Islands, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Great Natuna (Bunguran), Sulawesi, Butung, Tukangbesi, Kalimantan and Brunei.[1]

In Hong Kong, Troides helena is at the northern limit of its range. It is not common in Hong Kong but it is observed that there are stable populations in three sites (the surrounding area of Po Lo Che (Sai Kung), Shan Liu Road (Tai Po) and Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden in the New Territories. The species is also found on Lantau Island and Hong Kong Island.[3]

In India the butterfly is found in the North-East of the country including Sikkim, West Bengal and Orissa. It is also found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[1] The subspecies found in India are :[4]

  • T. h. cerberus (C. & R. Felder, 1865) - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya,Nagaland, Manipur, Orissa, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, W. Bengal.
  • T. h. heliconoides (Moore, 1877) - Andaman Is.
  • T. h. ferrari Tytler, 1926 - South Nicobar Is.

The Common Birdwing, though widespread and common in many of the localities it occurs in, is classified as Vulnerable.[1]

Etymology[edit]

Helen in Greek mythology Helen was the daughter of Zeus. Cerberus or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of the Underworld.[citation needed]

Conservation[edit]

This species is protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170 in Hong Kong.[3] The Common Birdwing is protected in Indonesia and may also require protection in peninsular Malaya also. It is listed in Appendix II of Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) as are all other Troides spp.[1]

Foodplants[edit]

Larva and pupa of Troides helena figures 1 and 1a

The larval foodplants include Aristolochia indica, Aristolochia tagala and Bragantia wallichi. A foodplant for the species, Aristolochia tagala has been planted in the Kadoorie Farm and Shan Liu Road in Hong Kong to sustain a healthy population of the species.[3]

Related species[edit]

Troides helena is a member of the Troides helena species group. The members of this clade are:

See also[edit]

Cited references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Collins, N. M. & M. G. Morris. (1985) Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World. IUCN. ISBN 2-88032-603-6
  2. ^ Bingham, C. T. 1907. Fauna of British India. Butterflies. Volume 2
  3. ^ a b c Hong Kong Lepidopteris Society webpage on Common Birdwing. Accessed 12 October 2006.
  4. ^ Cotton, Adam; Fric, Zdenek Faltynek; Smith, Colin & Smetacek, Peter (March 2013). "Subspecies catalogue of the butterflies of India (Papilionidae): A Synopsis". Bionotes 15 (1): 5–8. 

References[edit]

  • Collins, N. M. & M. G. Morris. (1985) Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World. IUCN. ISBN 2-88032-603-6
  • Evans, W. H. (1932) The Identification of Indian Butterflies. (2nd Ed), Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India
  • Gay, T., Kehimkar, I. & J. C. Punetha.(1992) Common Butterflies of India. WWF-India and Oxford University Press, Mumbai, India.
  • Haribal, M. (1994) Butterflies of Sikkim Himalaya and their Natural History.
  • Kunte, K. (2005) Butterflies of Peninsular India. Universities Press.
  • Kurt Rumbucher and Oliver Schäffler, 2005 Part 21, Papilionidae XI. Troides IV. helena-group. in Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach Eds. Butterflies of the World. Keltern : Goecke & Evers ISBN 978-3-937783-09-3
  • Wynter-Blyth, M. A. (1957) Butterflies of the Indian Region, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India.

External links[edit]