Views 147 Unique 89
Vote 62
Award Shortlist   

Mocker Swallowtail

By pamelajean
Do you think this mating pair look the same?
You might notice that one has tails and one has none.

The British entomologist E. B. Poulton described it as "the most interesting butterfly in the world".
The male of Papilio dardanus is unique in appearance. He has the typical swallow tails and is black and (off-)white on top and brown on the underside. He is monomorphic, meaning he has only one distinct look.

However, the name "mocker" refers to the female, who has several forms. One female form is to mimic the male.
So the female is polymorphic and can assume up to 14 different looks.
Most of her forms are untailed and mimic the colours and patterns of other butterfly species that are unpalatable or poisonous to birds.

African Swallowtail butterfly: Genetic secrets of nature's master of mimicry unraveled:
Scientists investigating how one of the greatest shape shifters in the natural world is able to trick predators to avoid being eaten have identified the gene behind the fascinating feat. The African Swallowtail butterfly, also known as the 'Mocker Swallowtail' or the 'Flying Handkerchief,' can appear to change both colour and shape.”

Grateful thanks to those of you who were interested enough in my previous butterfly post to leave your kind votes, comments and awards.


Tags: Butterfly Lepidoptera Mating Wildlife and nature Papilionidae Arthropoda Papilio dardanus Sub-Saharan Africa flying handkerchief African swallowtail ventral wings

Voters: Badgerfred, KingArthur, Canonshots and 59 more


KingArthur 13 8 Malta
10 Jul 2019 2:48PM
Beautiful shot Pamela and quite an informative write up too, thank you.

Joe Smile

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

10 Jul 2019 3:07PM
Superb macro photography. Also feel that I have learnt something today - great write up.
mac Plus
18 3 Scotland
10 Jul 2019 3:25PM
Your intro' is as interesting as your image and what an image, pin sharp and great range of tones well worth my UA.
10 Jul 2019 3:59PM
I wondered where you had got to? Well you have returned with a big bang. Or should I say a very peaceful but exquisite shot of the butterfly world which is absolutely outstanding. I have used up my awards for today but...………..there is tomorrow.! David
Beautiful image
10 Jul 2019 4:20PM
Lovely macro work!

LynneJoyce Plus
11 22 99 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2019 4:36PM
Nice macro portrait of this happy couple.

"So the female is polymorphic and can assume up to 14 different looks".

Very much like human females then.
10 Jul 2019 4:43PM
Beautiful and well detailed shot, Pamela.SmileSmile
taggart Plus
15 47 13 United States
10 Jul 2019 5:10PM
Very interesting text , a very new idea to me--- would love to see , especially the female!
franken Plus
17 5.0k 4 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2019 5:15PM
A lovely macro, Pamela.
JuBarney Plus
8 33 4 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2019 6:00PM
A beautiful close up
RSK 9 6 Canada
10 Jul 2019 6:31PM
Great informative notes Pamela,I believe I have known a couple of people that have polymorphic traitsSmile

Excellent presentation.


viscostatic 13 45 5 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2019 6:45PM
Great photography Pamela along with fascinating information.

Lillian Plus
10 23 17 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2019 8:21PM
a very happy pair one would suppose as well
superbly captured Pamela
10 Jul 2019 10:57PM
An excellently clear and detailed shot Pamela, very imfornative too. Pam
ColleenA Plus
7 440 6 Australia
10 Jul 2019 11:03PM
Well seen Pamela and great information
10 Jul 2019 11:55PM
Lovely detailed image Pamela, my award
Beautiful image, great detail and a really interesting write up
Fabulous image and the story of the Butterfly is incredible the girls certainly have it in this instance.

TrevBatWCC Plus
11 13 12 England
11 Jul 2019 3:56PM
Wow, imagine being able to assume 14 different looks!! 😮 A super detailed capture, Pamela, and interesting write-up too 👍
Trev 😀
11 Jul 2019 6:13PM
An outstanding close up of these beauties., Pamela.
A really fascinating narrative. Thanks for sharing.Smile
capto Plus
7 5.9k 13 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2019 10:04PM
Fascinating shot and write up.Smile
Chinga Plus
9 3 1 United Kingdom
30 Jul 2019 12:26AM
Beautiful mating pair...
Isabel GrinGrin
3 Aug 2019 4:57PM
Its all been said .... and I concur with everyone. Nature never ceases to amaze me. Best regards Pamela
Cheers Walt

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.