|Positive ||debnes_dfw_tx ||On Mar 20, 2008, debnes_dfw_tx from Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a) wrote:
This striking swallowtail actually has no tails at all, however like other similar mormon butterflies they originated in Southern Asia and Australia. Caterpillar host plants are most likely Rutaceae.
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.