The Common Mormon Butterfly

Yesterday, as I was out hanging the washing, this sight caught my eye. Perched  on a Desert Rose plant in my backyard was this–The Common Mormon butterfly/Papilio polytes romulus. It’s not often that one comes across an opportunity like this. A photo-op of a swallowtail butterfly sitting still for minutes! If one converts that into butterfly time, it’s like for ever!

Most of the time that I see these swallowtails, they’re always on the move feeding on the blooms or looking for an appropriate place to lay their eggs. With all the eggs and caterpillars in various stages of change, not to mention the several chrysalis that I’ve photographed, I’d like to think that this one had just emerged from  one of my  plants! And that she was drying her wings before flitting off to a life of her own!

It’s heartening to know that this kind of butterfly is common and does not belong to the ‘threatened’ category. However, in my garden, not all the pupating butterflies have been able to emerge. There are other creatures out there that’s feasting on them, leaving an empty shell. Which was why I was so thrilled to see  this swallowtail drying her wings (that’s what I’d like to think) in my backyard!


About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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27 Responses to The Common Mormon Butterfly

  1. andrea says:

    Hi Kanak, there was a time (two yrs) when i chased and observed butterflies, and i love this female P polytes which is more beautiful than the males. I envy you for spotting it not yet fluttering their wings as they are so difficult to photograph. I had an episode when i tried to look for pupas from our citrus trees and i found many but already parasitized by i dont know what. So i failed in trying to rear it in captivity, just for the purpose of taking shots while still drying the wings. There are also 2 versions in sizes, and i love the big one. I think there are 2 species though i already forgot the specific. thanks.

    • kanak7 says:

      Andrea, I did get an opportunity like this nearly two years ago. That’s when I realized the male does not have an attractive colour combination. Mostly black with a white line. The beautiful green/black pupa of the Common Indian Crow butterfly is only an empty shell now-its contents sucked out by a spider, I guess. Sad that every caterpillar does not have the chance to emerge as a butterfly.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I have not seen this butterfly before Kanak. I like its unique shape and colours 😀

    • kanak7 says:

      Thanks Steph! Rather large compared to other butterflies commonly seen in gardens here…I’m referring to the Palmfly and the Bush Browns.

  3. Titania says:

    Dear Kanak, It is so terrible for the family to lose a husband, father and loved relative. He was still young.Such a shock for the whole family. It is so hard to accept it, my heartfelt thoughts go to you and your family.
    In the garden life goes on. This beautiful swallowtail I have never seen. The garden at your sister’s house looks so beautiful and holds so many memories for all. Has your sun settled well at his new school? Have you still got children at home? Hugs, Trudi.

    • kanak7 says:

      Dear Trudi, It’s still so difficult. And my little nephew is constantly asking for his father. The older girls understand better but for the baby, he cannot figure out why his Dad isn’t home.

      My son is getting used to his new life. Earlier, he found the heat terrible but two days ago it rained, so the weather’s pleasant now. Classes started on the 21st. He seems to be managing well. My younger son is studying here in Guwahati. My older son turns 19 in August and the younger one will soon be sixteen.

      Always glad to have you stop by, Trudi.

  4. lotusleaf says:

    Beautiful capture. Yes, it is a good thing that these butterflies are not threatened. Your sister’s garden is beautiful. One is left with treasured memories when a loved one passes away.

  5. Mildred says:

    I’ve never seen this one before. It is so pretty and your photo is fantastic Kanak. What a rare opportunity for you. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • kanak7 says:

      Mildred…so happy to be able to share this! I hope I’ll be able to capture more of garden wildlife in the near future.

      I hope you’re having an enjoyable week.

  6. Sunita says:

    I think you’re probably right, Kanak. Or, she’s probably laying her own eggs. I think these are one of the toughest butterflies to photograph (among our common garden ones, I mean). They rarely sit still and when they’re hovering over a flower their upper wings beat so fast in the air that they’re like a blur of motion! So you’re so lucky to get this lovely capture.
    I just noticed … your Common Mormon laid eggs on a lime plant, mine usually lay them on the curry leaf plant. Aren’t we lucky that both plants are so common in our Indian gardens 🙂

    • kanak7 says:

      Hi Sunita…we are indeed lucky to have them come to lay their eggs on commonly grown plants. Although I have not photographed their eggs on the Curry leaf plant, I did see two cute,green caterpillars there. I did get plenty of opportunity to photograph the different stages but the actual emerging part….I’ve had no luck!:(

      Thank you for leaving your message on my last post…I will pass on your message to my sis. Sorry I haven’t been visiting regularly as before but I’ll soon catch up. I know there are lots of lovely posts there!

  7. Randy says:


    Enjoyed this post and the photo in it’s native habitat. These are commonly seen in butterfly houses in the US. These are farmed butterflies so they should not be threatened.

  8. arati says:

    this is beautiful kanak. love the detail on the butterfly. have you seen the crimson rose (of which the common mormon is a mimic) ? looks similar except that the colours are brighter and it has a red body.

    • kanak7 says:

      Thanks, Arati. Yes, I’ve seen the Crimson Rose. The hills surrounding our city has a wonderful diversity of butterflies. The Crimson Rose and the Birdwings are commonly seen there. I did get the opportunity to photograph them once. Hoping able to do so, again…can’t say when…

  9. Mildred says:

    Just a quick note to let you know I am taking a blog break to help pack my brother for his move to California for a new job. I’ll still be visiting with you. Take care dear friend.

  10. wow incredible shots – we don’t have butterflies as pretty as this and the ones we do have I spend my time chasing them trying to get a photo. 🙂 Rosie

    • kanak7 says:

      Rosie, I was plain lucky! Not often does one get an opportunity like that! Yesterday I was at my sister’s and tried my best to get a shot of a beautiful large butterfly (the Lesser Mime) but no luck!:(

  11. dozenoaks says:

    Wow! puts my humble Bee shots to shame! Thanks for visiting my blog, I’ll be back here for sure 🙂

  12. birdy says:

    Beautiful captures! Butterfly emergence is a wonderful experience for nature lover. Most of the pupae I found this season were parasitized by a species of small fly.

  13. Cyren says:

    Hey there

    Love your blog and this was an awesome post! As a butterfly breeder I have bred my fair share of this butterfly and I must say it is one of my favourites. Your female, however i do not think just hatched as her hindwing is torn which would probably mean an attack of some kind.

  14. Cyren says:

    Hi again Kanak! Thanks so much for dropping by 😀

    You have lovely photos. Anyway since you seem to like butterflies too I would like to share this video with you. Its a video of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. One of my own 🙂

  15. celestial elf says:

    Great Post 😀
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly’s tale~

    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

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