African Butterflies

Zhao Li2011/2017

Insect Museum of West China

Insect Museum of West China
Chengdu, China

The African region has nearly 3,000 species of butterflies, mainly distributed in tropical rainforests near the equator.
The yellow swallowtail butterfly in the top center of the picture is one of the most famous butterfly species in Africa. It is called Papilio dardanus, whose females exhibit polymorphism. The female butterfly can imitate various poisonous butterflies or moths. Its male butterfly is easy to recognize with black patterns on its creamy yellow wings and the tails on hindwings. In some distribution areas (e.g. Ethiopia, Madagascar), female butterflies are very similar to male butterflies in color, pattern and morphology. In other regions, most of the female butterflies' hind wings have no tail, and their forms differ a lot to mimic other poisonous butterflies. More than 100 species of polymorphic females are known among African swallowtail butterflies.
At the bottom of the picture, in the center left is a Papilio demoleus, one of the most widely distributed butterflies in the world, from Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Hawaii, along the southern Asian continent until central Africa. In recent years, this butterfly has spreaded to the Dominican Republic in the Western Hemisphere and also arrived in Jamaica and Puerto Rico. They are all from Southeast Asia, but it is still unclear how the species arrived in other regions.
The column of butterflies on the far right of the picture are Graphium antheus, on their left are broadly green-banded swallowtails (Papilio bromius). The three green butterflies in the center left are the apple-green swallowtails (Papilio phorcas), on their upper-left are 4 acraea swordtails (Graphium ridleyanus) and on their lower-right are 2 giant emperors (Charaxes castor). These are the species native to the rainforests of central Africa.
In addition, there is also one Papilio zagreus from South America in the picture, which is under the Graphium antheus.


  • Title: African Butterflies
  • Creator: Zhao Li
  • Date Created: 2011/2017
  • Type: Insect specimen

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