|Sri Lankan birdwing|
Among the largest and most gaudy of the Ceylon Lepidoptera is the great black and yellow butterfly (Ornithoptera darsius, Gray); the upper wings, of which measure six inches (15 cm) across, are of deep velvet black, the lower, ornamented by large particles of satiny yellow, through which the sunlight passes, and few insects can compare with it in beauty, as it hovers over the flowers of the heliotrope, which furnish the favourite food of the perfect fly, although the caterpillar feeds on the aristolochia and the betel leaf and suspends its chrysalis from its drooping tendrils.
- For terms see External morphology of Lepidoptera.
From Troides helena cerberus it differs as follows:
Male forewing: adnervular pale streaks not prominent on the upperside, more distinctly marked on the underside. Hindwing black, with a very broad discal slightly curved silky-yellow band or patch that extends beyond the cell from interspaces 2 to 7, and is composed of elongate outwardly emarginate yellow markings that are divided only by the black veins. In most specimens the inner margin of this band crosses the apex of the cell, but in many the cell is entirely black. Abdomen with some black markings beneath and a lateral row of black spots.
Female: Differs from cerberus female in the much greater extent of the black on the hindwing. Interspace 1 with a pale dusky-white patch in the middle; interspace 7 with an inner and an outer yellow spot; cell entirely black or nearly so, sometimes, but rarely, with the yellow extended into the apex.
Wingspan of 165–175 mm.
Cylindrical, dull purple brown, with two dorsal rows and anterior and lateral rows of fleshy tubercles, those on the eighth segment and a streak from its base to lower end of seventh segment being pale pink; between the tubercles are dark brown streaks. Feeds on Aristolochia (Moore.)
Pale purplish ochreous, bent backwards anteriorly; thorax conical, the top flattened and its sides angled; wing cases dilated and flattened laterally in the middle, their outer edge acute; two middle segments of abdomen with a dorsal pair of conical prominences. (Moore.)
The primary habitat is thinly wooded mountain forests from sea-level up to an elevation of 2,000 metres. Occasionally observed in gardens but generally rare in lowlands.
Troides darsius is threatened by deforestation.
- Troides haliphron (Boisduval, 1836)
- Troides darsius (Gray, )
- Troides vandepolli (Snellen, 1890)
- Troides criton (C. & R. Felder, 1860)
- Troides riedeli (Kirsch, 1885)
- Troides plato (Wallace, 1865)
- Troides staudingeri (Röber, 1888)
- Rodrigo, Malaka (March 28, 2010). "Sri Lanka names its national butterfly". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "National Butterfly". Daily News (Sri Lanka). March 25, 2010. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2014 – via HighBeam Research.
- Tennant, 1859 Ceylon, Physical, Historical and Topographical
- Bingham, C.T. (1907). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. II (1st ed.). London: Taylor and Francis, Ltd.
- Collins, N. Mark; Morris, Michael G. (1985). Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland & Cambridge: IUCN. ISBN 978-2-88032-603-6 – via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
- D'Abrera, B. (1975) Birdwing Butterflies of the World. Country Life Books, London.
- Haugum, J. & Low, A.M. 1978–1985. A Monograph of the Birdwing Butterflies. 2 volumes. Scandinavian Press, Klampenborg; 663 pp.
- Kurt Rumbucher and Oliver Schäffler, 2004 Part 19, Papilionidae X. Troides III. in Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach Eds. Butterflies of the World. Keltern: Goecke & Evers ISBN 978-3-937783-02-4
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