Papilio demoleus (chequered swallowtail)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Plant Trade
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Papilio demoleus Linnaeus, 1758
Preferred Common Name
- chequered swallowtail
Other Scientific Names
- Orpheides erithonius (Moore)
- Papilio demoleus f. demoleinus Jordan
- Papilio epius Fabricius
- Papilio erithonius Cramer
- Papilio erithonius var. demoleinus Oberthür
- Princeps demoleus Linnaeus
International Common Names
- English: citrus dog; lemon butterfly; lemon caterpillar; lime butterfly; lime swallowtail; orange butterfly
- Chinese: Damo Fengde
Local Common Names
- Germany: Indischer Citrus-Schwalbenschwanz
- PAPIDE (Papilio demoleus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Papilionidae
- Genus: Papilio
- Species: Papilio demoleus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
This species is replaced in the Afrotropical region (including southern Oman, Yemen and southwestern Saudi Arabia) by the very similar P. demodocus Esper, 1798 (Larsen, l983; Pittaway, l985).
DescriptionTop of page
Eggs are pale yellow and spherical (1 mm), but become dark as the larva develops within.
Newly hatched larvae (2.5 mm) are black or dark brown with a dorsal white saddle-like mark, and are spiny. These spines disappear as the larva grows, apart from the anterior and posterior pair. Diffuse orange lateral patches and small blue spots develop as size increases, with the head and true legs becoming orange.
Mature larvae (33 mm) are very different. The dorsal surface is a smooth, rich velvet green while the ventral surface is greyish-white. These two areas are separated by a brilliant milky-white lower lateral band. Segment 3 bears dorsally a transverse white and brown bar with eye-like spots at either end, and the green area of segment 5 is bordered anteriorly by a narrow curved black line. Segments 7 and 8 bear laterally a fragmented diagonal yellow-brown and white bar (this may be absent in some individuals), and there is a patch of the same colour on segment 9. The osmeterium is flesh-coloured; the true legs and head are orange.
It should be noted that the Australasian subspecies differ in both markings and coloration (Common and Waterhouse, 1981).
Pupae are slightly concave dorsally (this differs from P. polytes), with a pair of lateral anterior projections and a short dorsal thoracic projection. They are formed under leaves or on twigs near the feeding site and may be either brown or green depending on the colour of the substrate.
The butterflies (65-110 mm) are unmistakeable. Dorsally, the wings are black with large yellow markings and a dusting of fine yellow scales. The main yellow markings form an irregular broken bar running from the apex of the forewing to the mid-dorsum on the hindwing, and there is a series of yellow submarginal spots on both wings. In the tornal angle of the hindwing there is a red and blue eye-like marking; in the female this eye spot contains a large black circular area. The ventral surface is mainly yellow with black markings, with a series of reddish post-discal bars on the hindwing. Both thorax and abdomen are yellow laterally, and black dorsally and ventrally. Unlike most swallowtails, the hindwings carry no tails.
DistributionTop of page
The distribution map includes records based on specimens of P. demoleus from the collection in the Natural History Museum (London, UK): dates of collection are noted in the list of countries (NHM, various dates).
P. demoleus was not recorded from Kalimantan (southern Borneo), Timor or Sulawesi by Common and Waterhouse (198l), even though citrus is widely cultivated there. They also stated that this butterfly was absent from the Philippines and Sumatra (Indonesia); however, Corbet and Pendlebury (1992) recorded it from these last two areas. Jumalon (1969) had also recorded it from the Philippines much earlier. It has recently colonized Sarawak (Wan, 1970), Java (Matsumoto and Woro Noerdjito, 1996), Borneo (including Indonesian Kalimantan) and Bali, Indonesia (Matsumoto, 2002). Records from Sabah (Anon., 1962) require further investigation because this species appears to be extending its range. Vagrants have occurred sporadically on various islands of the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan (Matsuka, 2003).
In March 2004 P. demoleus was discovered in the Dominican Republic on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in an area commonly known as 'Hoyo Azul' (18°33.528'N, 68°26.807'W) located in the municipality of El Veron, Higuey Province. This was the first New World documentation of this Old World citrus pest (Guerrero et al., 2004). The specimens were not the strongly yellow Australian subspecies P. demoleus sthenelus, but resembled populations of P. demoleus malayanus from South-East Asia. P. demoleus has now been reported from Puerto Rico (Homziak and Homziak, 2006) and, more recently, a December 2006 OPIS (Offshore Pest Information System) report helped to confirm new country detection of lime swallowtail in Jamaica (NAPPO, 2006; see http://www.pestalert.org/oprDetail.cfm?oprID=244).
All records of this species from the Afrotropical (Ethiopian) biogeographical region refer to the closely related but specifically distinct P. demodocus.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 21 Jul 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Hong Kong||Present, Widespread|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present|
|Indonesia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Java||Present, Few occurrences||Original citation: Matsumoto & Woro Noerdjito, 1996|
|-Lesser Sunda Islands||Present||Invasive|
|-Sumatra||Present||Original citation: Kalshoven and van der Laan (1981)|
|Malaysia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present, Widespread|
|-Sabah||Present, Few occurrences|
|-Sarawak||Present, Few occurrences|
|Oman||Present, Widespread||Original citation: Larsen & Larsen, 1980|
|Saudi Arabia||Present, Widespread|
|Sri Lanka||Present, Widespread|
|Syria||Present||P. demoleus confirmed in the Latakia Mountains of western Syria, with numerous later observations of the butterfly and its early stages in Citrus groves along the Mediterranean coast of Syria.|
|Turkey||Present||Extensive spread of P. demoleus in south-eastern Turkey and in regions adjacent to the north-eastern Mediterranean.|
|United Arab Emirates||Present, Localized||Original citation: Walker and Pittaway (1987)|
|Jamaica||Present, Widespread||Introduced||2006||Invasive||Established in most parishes and a minor pest in citrus nurseries|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Original citation: Homziak Homziak (2006)|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present, Localized|
|-Northern Territory||Present, Widespread|
|-South Australia||Present, Localized|
|-Western Australia||Present, Widespread|
|Papua New Guinea||Present, Localized|
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Yunus and Munir (1972) showed that P. demoleus larvae will accept leaves of at least 19 citrus species or varieties, but demonstrated some differences in larval consumption rates, development times, and mortality between the hosts.
Utilization of the leguminous genus Psoralea is mainly confined to the Australasian subspecies (Common and Waterhouse, 1981); however, Psoralea corylifolia [Cullen corylifolium] has been recorded as a suitable host from Rajasthan (Pandey and Bogawat, 1969) and other areas of northern India. Michelia champaca and Annona squamosa are also newly recorded hosts from India (Patil and Rajashekhargouda, 1985).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Aegle marmelos (golden apple)||Rutaceae||Wild host|
|Annona squamosa (sugar apple)||Annonaceae||Other|
|Citrus aurantium (sour orange)||Rutaceae||Unknown|
|Cullen corylifolium (black-dot)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Cullen corylifolium (black-dot)||Fabaceae||Wild host|
|Desmodium gangeticum||Fabaceae||Wild host|
|Glycosmis pentaphylla||Rutaceae||Wild host|
|Ixora coccinea (flame-of-the-woods)||Rubiaceae||Unknown|
|Limonia acidissima (elephant apple)||Rutaceae||Wild host|
|Magnolia champaca (golden champa)||Magnoliaceae||Wild host|
|Morinda citrifolia (Indian mulberry)||Rubiaceae||Unknown|
|Murraya koenigii (curry leaf tree)||Rutaceae||Main|
|Ruta graveolens (common rue)||Rutaceae||Wild host|
|Zanthoxylum (prickly-ash)||Rutaceae||Wild host|
|Zinnia elegans (zinnia)||Asteraceae||Unknown|
|Ziziphus mauritiana (jujube)||Rhamnaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Leaves / external feeding|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The spherical, pale yellow eggs are laid singly on the upper surface of young leaves. These darken as the larva develops within, and hatch after 5-9 days. Radke and Kandalkar (1988) state that 15-22 eggs are laid per female, but Farid (1987) quotes a maximum of 511 eggs per female. Krishnamoorthy and Singh (1986) found that natural rates of egg parasitism by Trichogramma chilonis could reach 75.9% in Karnataka, India. This stage generally lasts 4-7 days, depending on temperature.
Up until the fourth instar the brown-black and white larvae feed and rest openly on the upper sides of leaves, relying on a resemblance to fresh bird droppings for protection.
Mature larvae behave differently. These generally rest some distance from the feeding area on twigs among foliage and rely on their now cryptic coloration for protection; however, Corbet and Pendlebury (1992) state that it is at this stage that larvae suffer their heaviest mortality. Larvae of this species can often be found in the company of larvae of Papilio polytes and P. memnon, which are very similar in appearance. The larval stage generally lasts 15-26 days, depending on temperature.
Pupae, which are formed under leaves or on twigs near the feeding site, may be either brown or green depending on the colour of the substrate. Rafi et al. (1989) found that overall mortality was highest during this stage, with the main mortality factor being the parasitoid Pteromalus puparum. Farid (1987) states that 30-86% of pupae are killed by this wasp. This stage lasts from 8-19 days to a number of months, depending on whether the pupa diapauses. Details of pupal diapause are given by Singh (1993b) and Ishii (1987).
The unmistakable yellow and black chequered adults (65-100 mm) generally emerge during the morning and are usually on the wing a few hours later, visiting low-growing flowers in sunny locations. Courtship takes place in such areas, with mating lasting 1.5-2 h. The natural lifespan of wild adults rarely exceeds 6 days (Singh and Gangwar, 1989).
More details of the biology of this species in India and Pakistan are given by Ghosh (1914), Mishra and Pandey (1965), Radke and Kandalkar (1988), Rafi et al., (1989), Singh and Gangwar (1989), and Goyle (1990).
In Puerto Rico, where it has recently been introduced, it has a life cycle of approximately 30 days. From oviposition, eggs hatch in three days. Larval instar durations are 3, 2, 3, 3, and 5 d for larval stages 1 to 5, respectively. Pupal stage lasts approximately 12 days. Twelve or more generations are possible under local citrus-growing conditions (Segarra-Carmona et al., 2010).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis||Pathogen||Arthropods|Larvae|
|Cytoplasmic polyhedrosis virus (CPV)||Pathogen||Arthropods|Larvae|
|cytoplasmic polyhedrosis viruses||Pathogen||Arthropods|Larvae||Karnataka||Citrus|
|Distatrix papilionis||Parasite||Arthropods|Larvae||India; Karnataka||Citrus|
|Trichogramma chilonis||Parasite||Eggs||India; Karnataka||Citrus|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Singh (1991) carried out a similar survey in Tamil Nadu, India, of P. demoleus, P. polytes, P. polymnestor and P. helenus, all pests of citrus. The following parasitoids were recorded: Distatrix papilionis, Holcojoppa coelopyga, Melalophacharops sp., Brachymeria jambolana and Pteromalus puparum. The latter was found by Farid (1987) to be the most active parasitoid of pupae in southern Iran, with pupae of the fourth generation being the most susceptible (86% parasitism) and those of the seventh generation the least susceptible (30%).
Singh (1993) reported that an entomophilic nematode (Steinernema sp.) isolated from Agrotis segetum and A. biconica in India, was shown to be highly effective against larvae of P. demoleus in the laboratory, causing 90-100% mortality within 10 days.
Preparations of Bacillus thuringiensis have been used throughout the region to control this species and may sometimes be found infecting larvae under natural conditions.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Leaves||arthropods/eggs; arthropods/larvae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||arthropods/pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
ImpactTop of page
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
The adult P. demoleus is, however, very similar to the African species P. demodocus, from which it can be distinguished by the characteristic form of the blue and red eyespots on the hindwing as well as the rounded outlines of cream spots on the forewing.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Low-level infestations can be controlled by hand-picking larvae (Cherian, 1942). Severe infestations are generally controlled by applying chemical pesticides or plant extracts to the foliage, e.g. carbaryl, phosalone, acephate, pirimiphos-methyl, fenitrothion, permethrin, etc. Details are given by Radke and Kandalkar (1986), Singh and Kumar (1986), Batra (1990), Nandihalli et al. (1991), and Solunke and Deshpande (1991).
The efficacy of different concentrations of the biopesticides Bacillus thuringiensis and Beauveria bassiana, as well as of neem seed kernel extract, neem oil and azadirachtin were tested by Narayanamma and Savithri (2003) against P. demoleus in Andhra Pradesh, India. Spraying of B. thuringiensis resulted in a 100% control of the pest population after 5 days of application, regardless of the concentration used (0.0025, 0.005 or 0.0075%). The mean reduction in the population of the pest was highest using B. thuringiensis and lowest with azadirachtin sprays.
ReferencesTop of page
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Smith C, 1990. Beautiful butterflies: a colourful introduction to Nepal's most beautiful insects., Bangkok, Thailand: Craftsman Press.
Tong X, 1993. Butterfly fauna of Zhejiang., Hangzhou, China: Zhejiang Science and Technology Publishers.
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Yong S, Teruel R, Breto D, 2018. Occurrence of the lime swallowtail Papilio demoleus Linnaeus, 1758 (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) in western Cuba. Ecologica Montenegrina. 15-17. https://www.biotaxa.org/em/article/view/39586/33734
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