Papilio aegeus (Princeps aegeus): Boo! Don't scare me like that!

Discussion in 'Celebrate Biodiversity' started by Chungii V, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. Chungii V

    Chungii V Active Member

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    The large citrus butterfly larvae has one of the coolest defense mechanisms I've seen on any bug. Firstly it obscures itself by giving the appearance of having been left behind by a bird. If the disgusting look is not enough to deter something having a peck at it then come out the horns... literally. As you can see the bright red 'horns' protrude just above it's head and retract again once it feels safe. The 'horns' apparently produce a foul odour as well, though I can't say I've been tempted to verify that one.
    They do some damage to my citrus but not enough to warrant killing them. Heck, they turn into large butterflies who'd want to kill them anyway?
    Pic 1 is of a bigger grub but I think it must have been on the verge of 'cocooning' as it wouldn't be stirred. Pics 2-4 are of a smaller grub that was a little more active.
    I was going to post it in pests and disease but think this guy's cool enough to be in this section.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  2. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Re: Princeps aegeus: Boo! Don't scare me like that!

    Great photos! Enjoy the time-lapse effect. ---If you had a few more, they would make an awesome (literally!) flip book. And I thought that my daughter's pygmy hedgehog was spiny!
     
  3. Chungii V

    Chungii V Active Member

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    Re: Princeps / Papilio aegeus: Boo! Don't scare me like that!

    Okay two updates.
    Firstly I had to change the thread name because I found that, as with plants, insects seem to also be classified under different names hence Princeps or Papilio. I first found Princeps in a 2006 edition pest i.d. book and on the Australian CSIRO site but believe Papilio to be the more used and updated name. It is also commonly known as the 'Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly' I guess as it would be highly abundant in citus orchards, (just speculation there;}) It's also a species which is endemic to eastern Australia: Queensland to New South Wales
    Secondly I walked out the back just before and found to my delight an adult female butterfly. I am sure by the loads of 'dust' on the wings and the very docile nature of this butterfly it had just recently left it's cocoon. The wingspan is as close to 6 inches, 15cm as you can get from tip to tip.

    One last comment for those who like technical jargon the name of for grubs red 'horns' is osmeterium
     

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