|Mating Common Mormon Butterflies at Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India|
(Image: Indian Biodiversity Talks)
Common Mormon now decorates the coveted title of Butterfly of Mumbai - the financial capital of India. Mumbaikars have selected the most charming common butterfly in their suburbs in a suspense filled competition between a dozen winged beauties. In the race to win the title of the most charming, common butterfly, Common Mormon overtook a couple of winged beauties like Tailed Jay, Common Crow, and Common Emigrant.
Known as Papilio polytes in scientific parlance, this Swallowtail butterfly grabbed the title when biodiversity conservation research organisation Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) organised a public poll on different common butterfly species, as part of their Breakfast with Butterflies programme, to create awareness among the city folk about butterflies. According to sources, the voting was held at the Facebook page of BNHS also.
During the programme, the 150 participants of the programme voted for butterflies like Common Crow, Tailed Jay, Common Mormon and Common Emigrant. 69 voters elected Common Mormon as the most charming one. Tailed jay, the closest rival in the race, managed to bag 35 votes.
Others beauties failed to make many fans among the voters with Plain Tiger scoring 28 votes and Common Emigrant managing to get 17 votes. Common Crow was the least voted species, with just 9 votes. According to organisers at the BNHS, butterfly species were selected for voting based on their popularity and wide distribution in Mumbai.
“Common Mormon is just like any Mumbaikar”
According to Dr. V.Shubhalaxmi, Deputy Director, BNHS, Common Mormon has a lot of similarity with an average Mumbaikar. “Common Mormon resonates the spirit of Mumbai by being elegant and beautiful yet ‘street smart’ to remain grounded. Like any Mumbaikar, Common Mormon fights the odds of life by adjusting with its environment by adopting strategy of mimicry”, she said.
She sketches out more striking similarities between the newly elected Butterfly Mumbai and the Mumbai life. “As the young love their food with a dash of curry leaf tadka and drops of lemon juice, so does the Common Mormon’s caterpillar”, she said. Next time you see a Common Mormon, remember they are our buddies and let them live and flourish with us, she reminds.
Watch mating Common Mormon butterflies. The female is mimicking Crimson Rose
The swallowtail butterfly belonging to the Papilionidae, is widely distributed in India and other parts of Asia. The female Common Mormon butterflies show an interesting example of mimicry in the insect world. Some female Common Mormon butterflies mimic Common Rose while some other mimic Crimson Rose, both distasteful to birds due to the poisonous food plants they eat during their larval stages. Common Mormon lays its eggs in Curry leaf plant or lemon plant.