AppearanceThe butterfly is tailless and has a wingspan 80–100 mm. As the caterpillar ages, its hunger for leaf tissue continues to grow.
Status''P. demoleus'' is perhaps the most widely distributed swallowtail in the world. The butterfly can be found in:
Syria, Iraq, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, western and possibly eastern Afghanistan, the Indian Subcontinent , Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, southern China , Taiwan, Japan , Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia , Papua New Guinea, Australia , Solomon Islands, and possibly other Pacific Ocean islands.
The Southeast Asian subspecies ''Papilio demoleus malayanus'' recently established an abundant non-native population on Mahé in Seychelles This species was probably accidentally introduced to Mahé a few years ago . Further dispersal events of ''Papilio demoleus'' within Seychelles to other granitic islands of the archipelago, e.g. Praslin and La Digue, are expected.
Formerly absent from Borneo, it is now one of the commonest papilionids in Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo, Kalimantan , and Brunei.,
In recent years, the butterfly has spread to Hispaniola island in the Western Hemisphere, and subsequently to Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. The Dominican population originated from Southeast Asia but how the butterfly reached there is not known.
BehaviorThis butterfly is an avid mud-puddler and visitor of flowers. It basks with its wings held wide open on tufts of grass and herbs, and generally keeps within a metre of the ground, even on cloudy days. It relies on its quick flight for escape.
It has a number of modes of flight. In the cool of the morning, the flight is slow considering that it is an edible and unprotected swallowtail. As the day progresses, it flies fast, straight, and low. In the hotter part of the day, it may be found settling on damp patches, where it will remain motionless, except for an occasional flutter of wings, if not disturbed.
It is also a frequent visitor of flowers in gardens, where it shows a preference for flowers of smaller herbs rather than larger plants such as the ubiquitous ''Lantana'' with its plentiful blooms. It can be found swarming in the groves of its food plants.
Research on freshly emerged imagines of ''P. demoleus'' showed that they have an inborn or spontaneous preference while feeding for blue and purple colours, while the yellow, yellowish-green, green, and blue-green colours are completely neglected.
HabitatThe widespread range of ''P. demoleus'' indicates the butterfly's tolerance and adaptation to diverse habitats. It is found in savannahs, fallow lands, gardens, evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, and shows a preference for streams and riverbeds.
FoodThe larval food plants of ''P. demoleus'' in Asia are from the family Rutaceae, while in Australia and Papua New Guinea, the butterfly also feeds on host plants of family Fabaceae.
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