Thursday, July 27, 2006

Common Rose

Scientific Name :- Pachliopta aristolochiae

Common Rose is a butterfly with a wingspan of 80 -110 mm. It is a black butterfly with a crimson body. there is a large white area on the hind wings. A series of deep red or brownish - red spots are present on the outer margin of the hind wings. the sexes look alike.

The Crimson Rose is a similar species which is larger, brighter and has two white central bands on its fore wings. The Malabar Rose ( Pachilipta pandiyana Moore ) has a much larger white patch on its hind wings. It is found only in the southern and central Western ghats. The female of the Common Mormon ( form stichius) mimics this species.

Status, Distribution and Habitat

It is distributed all over the oriental region and is very common throughout India. It is found mainly in open, cultivated areas, scrub and deciduous forests. A common visitor to garden flowers, it is also seen in most crowded cities. It is more frequent during and after the rains, being less common during very cold or very hot periods of the year.


The flight of some swallowtails is interesting, with the long fore wings being used for propelling the body in flight and the hind wings mainly for balancing and steering. The Common Rose is one example of this, and the flight style is distinctly evident when the butterfly is feeding from flowers. At this time, the fore wings are flapped continuously and the hind wings ae moved only a little to control the movement of the body. The flight is slow but straight and long sustained. The butterfly flies usually not more than 3 - 4 m above the ground when it is searching for flowers or for the larval host plant. However, when it travels long distances, it flies up to 10 - 15 m above open ground and slightly higher when flying over the forest.

Commonrose is fond of flowers, especially of Lantana, Cosmos, Zinnia, etc and visits wet soil occasionally.

Early in the morning Common Rose can be seen basking near tree tops with its wings spread out.


The female takes a long time fluttering around and investigating the host plant to confirm that the plant has abundant young leaves for the ever hungry caterpillars. the eggs are laid on the underside of leaves of Aristolochia. the egg is round and reddish. the caterpillar is a velvety maroon in colour with a whitish band on its abdominal segments. This band is more important in the advanced stages of the caterpillar. The caterpillar has fleshy protuberancs on the body, is bulky and slow in its movements. The pupa is brownish and held at an angle to the support, generally a stick, by means of a body-band. It looks unusual due to the large flat, semi circular projections on the back of the abdomen, thorax and head.

The caterpillars, and hence the butterflies, are protected because of the pungent smelling aristolochic acids found in their host plants. They smell and taste unpleasant and predators soon learn to avoid them. However, in spite of their unpalatibility to birds and reptiles, the caterpillars are vulnerable to parasitoid attacks. the braconid wasps that parasitize Southern Birdwing caterpilars also parasitize the caterpillars of the Common Rose. The aristolochic acid defenses of their host are of no use against the wasps as the wasps also have evolved along with their host in such a way that the acids have no adverse effect on them.

Larval Host Plants

The caterpillars feed on creepers and climbers: Aristolochia bracteolata, Aristolochia indica, Aristolochia tagala and Thottea siliquosa ( Aristolochiaceae).

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