Maluku (Indonesia)

  • Hi Jean-Marc,

    How did someone arrive at the determination of "Ornithoptera croesus" for the black and red caterpillar posed on a monocot (9 July 2010 photo by G. Bellanger) in the accompanying link? This chenille does not look like any immature Ornithoptera I have seen, having instead the characteristic appearance of a "Pachliopta" – more specifically Atrophaneura (P.) polydorus. Is that a common butterfly on Halmahera? And how long/big was the subject larva, please? Thanks very much.

    Best wishes,

    Keith Wolfe

  • Hi Rudi and Keith !

    Many thanks for your messages. I was not with my friends in Maluku last July. So, it's a little bit difficult for me to answer your questions. It's better that I forward the questions to those who were in Halmahera and Seram.

    a) night collects : on the webpage only three pictures for the night collect. I'll ask Gérard if he has more pictures.

    b) The caterpillar. Keith is right. Looking at the Matsuda's page on Ornithoptera larvae (p. 241), it's obvious that the pictured caterpillar is not O. croesus. I believe that it's not Atrophaneura polydorus (see the attached picture of A. polydorus larva). I'm sorry : when editing the post about this entomoexpedition, I did not check everything (I checked for butterflies but forgot to check the caterpillars), trusting my friends who were there. I have to determine this larva !

    Best wishes

  • About the caterpillar : I sent the picture and received this (provisional) answer :

    "Dear Jean-Marc,

    I have forwarded your e-mail with photos to someone who knows the larvae from that region, as I am not familiar with the precise differences in Troidine larvae from Moluccas.

    I should point out that polydorus is not an Atrophaneura. That genus should be solely for the nox, varuna, priapus etc group of species. polydorus belongs to Pachliopta (aristolochiae and other related species), which is sister group to Losaria (coon, rhodifer, neptunus and palu).

    When I get some news from my friend about the larvae photos I will let you know.

    All the best,

  • Thank you Jean-Marc. After consulting my references (e.g. Papilionidae and their Early Stages by Igarashi, The Butterflies of Papua New Guinea by Parsons, The Life Histories of Asian Butterflies by Igarashi & Fukuda, and more importantly my own caterpillar images of Atrophaneura [Pachliopta] polydorus from Timika), I can confirm that Gérard's larva is an excellent match for this species – the only other congener reported from Halmahera being A. polyphontes, whose chenille has a white abdominal band on A3. Please note that the reddish tubercles and, when present, creamy bases of A. polydorus cats can vary in number, coloration, and/or extent . . . certainly between, if not within, island populations.

    Hans, I suspect the subject raupe was simply placed on the nearest big leaf for ease of photography, the pictured plant being unrelated to the actual host. Again, this is surely the caterpillar of A. polydorus, which utilizes various Aristolochiaceae.



  • Dear Keith,

    Here is the answer I received this early morning : you were right !

    " Here's the reply : Hi Adam - the first pic is a darker form of lydius - the larvae vary but it is Ornithoptera for sure - the second specimen is a Pachliopta I took larvae of P. polydorus in Irian and they are very similar to the second pic - but this is from Irian Jaya not Halmahera. Do you have any other info but YES it is P. polydorus - I would say early 5th.

    I hope that sorts it out,
    Adam. "

    Thanks for this useful and interesting correction !


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