Papilio ulysses, the Ulysses butterfly (also commonly known as the Blue emperor), is a large swallowtail butterfly of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Its size varies depending on subspecies, but the wingspan is about 10.5 cm (4.1 in) in Queensland.[1]

Ulysses butterfly
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Papilio
P. ulysses
Binomial name
Papilio ulysses
  • P. u. autolycus C.Felder & R.Felder, 1865
  • P. u. denticulatus Joicey & Talbot, 1916
  • P. u. dirce Jordan, 1909
  • P. u. jennifeae Jakusch, 2007
  • P. u. ulysses Linnaeus, 1758

See text

This butterfly is used as an emblem for tourism in Queensland, Australia.

Description Edit

Male of Papilio ulysses ambiguus from New Britain, Papua New Guinea

The Ulysses butterfly typically has a wingspan of about 14 cm (5.5 in), but depending on subspecies has some variations in size (western subspecies largest). The upperside of the wings are an iridescent electric blue; the underside is a more subdued black and brown. The colours are produced by the microscopic structure of the scales, a phenomenon called structural colouration.[2]

The female of the species is different from the male in that she has little crescents of blue in the back, upside sections of her hindwings, where there is only black for males. When the butterfly is perched the intense blue of its wings is hidden by the plainer brown under side of its wings, helping it to blend in with its surroundings. When in flight, the butterfly can be seen hundreds of meters away as sudden bright blue flashes. Males are strongly attracted to the color blue, including blue objects which are sometimes mistaken for females.

Similar species Edit

The other members of the Papilio ulysses species group.

Subspecies Edit

  • P. u. ulysses Seran, Ambon
  • P. u. telemachus Montrouzier, 1856 Trobriand, Fergusson, Goodenough
  • P. u. telegonus C. & R. Felder, 1860 Bachan, Ternate, Halmahera
  • P. u. autolycus C. & R. Felder, 1865 West Irian - Papua
  • P. u. joesa Butler, 1869 Cape York - McKay, Queensland
  • P. u. orsippus Godman & Salvin, 1888 Choiseul, Isabel, Guadalcana, Florida Island
  • P. u. ambiguus Rothschild, 1895 Bismarck Archipelago
  • P. u. melanotica Hagen, 1897 Moluccas
  • P. u. gabrielis Rothschild, 1898 Admiralty Is.
  • P. u. nigerrimus Ribbe, 1898 Bougainville, Shortland Is.
  • P. u. morotaicus Rothschild, 1908 Morotai Island
  • P. u. dohertius Rothschild, 1898 Obi
  • P. u. ampelius Rothschild, 1908 Buru
  • P. u. oxyartes Fruhstorfer, 1909 Aru
  • P. u. georgius Rothschild, 1908 New Georgia Group

Diet and conservation Edit


Conservation Edit

The Ulysses butterfly inhabits tropical rainforest areas and suburban gardens. The Australian government requires breeders to obtain permits, although the species is not endangered. In the past, this butterfly had been threatened but planting pink flowered doughwood has increased its numbers. Reduction in the number of the Euodia trees, a tree heavily used for laying eggs and for leaves eaten by caterpillars, may threaten the survival of this butterfly. Females favour small trees up to 2 metres tall to lay their eggs.

Diet Edit

The larval food plants of this butterfly include kerosene wood, a variety of Citrus, and Euodia. In Australia, the Ulysses butterfly imago is known to feed from the blossoms of the pink flowered doughwood, a tree with clusters of small pink flowers that extrude from its branches.[3]

References Edit

  1. ^ Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland: Cooktown to MacKay. Queensland Museum. (2000), p. 114.
  2. ^ P. Vukusic, J. R. Sambles, C. R. Lawrence, R. J. Wootton (2001) Sculpted-multilayer optical effects in two species of Papilio butterfly. Applied Optics 40:1116-1125 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2007-11-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Facts About the Migration of the Ulysses Butterfly". PawNation. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2014.

Further reading Edit

  • Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach, 1998 Schmetterlinge der Erde, Butterflies of the World Part I (1), Papilionidae Papilionidae I: Papilio, Subgenus Achillides, Bhutanitis, Pooples. Edited by Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach. Keltern: Goecke & Evers; Canterbury: Hillside Books, ISBN 9783931374624

External links Edit

  Media related to Papilio ulysses at Wikimedia Commons