Thursday, 8 October 2015

146. Papilio memnon agenor (The Great Mormon)

Number: 146
Family: Papilioniidae
Sub-Family: Papilioniinae
Species: Papilio memnon agenor Linnaeus, 1758
Common name(s): The Great Mormon
Photography locations: Hanoi City, Ba Vi N.P. (Hanoi)

Papilio memnon is a species that can exploit a variety of habitats due to its ability to feed on a wide range of Rutaceous plants, including cultivated Citrus. This butterfly is very common and can also be seen all year round in the middle of big cities - the cultivation of Citrus plants has ensured this.

Alfred Russel Wallace first described the remarkable polymorphic nature of P. memnon, which exists as 13 subspecies and in addition, females show a large diversity of morphological and coloration forms, many of which are mimetic of other unpalatable papilionid species (Batesian mimicry). Female morphological variations include: presence or absence of tails, hindwing pattern, forewing pattern, color of the basal triangle on the forewing, and abdomen color.

P. memnon agenor is the taxon occurring in Vietnam. Three forms of female are known in the country viz. f.agenor, f.alcanor and f.distantianus, whereas males are monomorphic and non-mimetic. Males are much more commoner - or at least much more frequently sighted - than females.

Papilio memnon agenor, male (Ba Vi, April 2017)

Papilio memnon agenor courtship, with the female (on top) displaying the tailless agenor form (Hanoi, April 2015)

 The male, feeding on Lantana flowers
Males sometimes imbibe mineralised moisture from wet ground but both sexes are more commonly seen when nectaring at flowering bushes

Male is tailless, above deep blue to black, red patch at the base of the wings on the underside

Papilio memnon agenor female form agenor 

Female form agenor on Duranta erecta - an extremely popular nectar source for a wide variety of butterflies. Widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical gardens throughout the world, and has become naturalized in many places.

Papilio memnon agenor female form alcanor. This tailed form is a mimic of the unpalatable (toxic) Atrophaneura swallowtails, while form agenor is non-mimetic

Another female displaying the tailless agenor form (February 2014, Hanoi), showing very dark forewings

Puddle party at water seepage on a rocky slope at a riverbank (Tam Dao, mid-June 2016) with 5 Papilio species (1 nephelus chaon, helenus, bianor gladiator, polytes, memnon) + Graphium eurypylus cheronus (6)


  1. C'est magnifique, vos photos de vol nuptial des Papilio memnon agenor. Bravo !

    NGUYEN Linh Quang

  2. Wonderful to see the photographs of courtship behaviour!