A Swallowtail Selection



Papilio ulysses (Bachan Island, Indonesia)

Papilio thoas (Loreto Province, Peru)

Papilio blumei (South Sulawesi, Indonesia)


Papilio ulysses is found in the Australasia / Indomalaya ecozone, with this specimen originating from the Bachan Islands, Indonesia. The central splash of bright, electric blue is surrounded by a velvet black, all set off inside the black frame. The males are especially attracted to blue objects, even from a distance of 30 metres. Collectors often exploit this by using a piece of blue paper or cloth to attract the butterflies.



Papilio thoas – this bright, bold, yellow and black butterfly, also known as the king swallowtail, is found from the southernmost United States down through Central America and as far south as Argentina and Uruguay.


This species is one of many that exhibit ‘hilltopping’ behaviour in order to attract mates – the basic idea of which appears to be that by clustering at the tops of hills the butterflies restrict the area in which they have to look for mates and for them to be looked for by the females. After an exploratory flight over a large area of the hilltop, male P. thoas patrol a small and well-defined area, often flying in perfect circles of about 2m diameter, or resting on some vantage point and darting out at every passing butterfly. 


Papilio blumei is found only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The arresting colouration is due not to pigmentation but to the effect of refraction – light bouncing off the intricate microscopic structures in the scales themselves. Scientists have attempted to replicate the metallic and iridescent colouring as it could be used in anti-forgery technology for banknotes and credit cards. For more information, take a look at this fascinating article here: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/how-butterflies%E2%80%99-wings-could-cut-bank-fraud


These butterflies have been prepared in the UK to museum standards and are displayed in a deep handmade shadowbox frame, mounted on white conservation-grade foam. The back of the frame is covered in really special Italian decorative paper, with a brass hook for hanging it on the wall (but it also stands perfectly on a mantlepiece or a table). They are completely sealed inside the frame and will last for generations.


A Swallowtail Selection

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