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Common Mormon (Papilio polytes)

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Order: Lepidoptera (le-pid-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Papilionidae (pap-ill-lee-ON-ih-dee) (Info)
Genus: Papilio (pap-ILL-ee-oh) (Info)
Species: polytes

Profile:

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By Dinu
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By debnes_dfw_tx

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Member Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive debnes_dfw_tx On Mar 20, 2008, debnes_dfw_tx from Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a) wrote:

Another beautiful swallowtail which flits from Australia, Southern Asia and all islands in between. The caterpillars of this species feed on plants from citrus (or Rutaceae).

The common name is an allusion to the polygamy formerly practiced by members of the Mormon sect according to Harish Gaonkar, of the Natural History Museum in London
The origins of giving common English names to organisms, particularly butterflies for tropical species started in India around the mid 19th century ... The naming of Mormons evolved slowly. I think the first to get such a name was the Common Mormon (Papilio polytes), because it had three different females, a fact that could only have been observed in the field, and this they did in India. The name obviously reflected the ... Mormon sect in America, which as we know, practiced polygamy. Another school of thought as to why these 3 species are dubbed “Mormon”: The Scarlet Mormon (Papilio rumanzovia), Great Mormon (Papilio memnon) and Common Mormon (Papilio polytes) are all beautifully colored in black and white, often with red markings. The high contrast patterns along with their relatively large size cause members of these species to standout to visitors of the butterfly exhibit. Furthermore, Butterfly Wing visitors will think they are seeing more species than they actually are, because each of the Mormons is sexually dimorphic (males and females differ) as well as polymorphic (more than one wing pattern). These polymorphisms were first described nearly a century and a half ago.


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