Butterflies of New
and the islands of the South Pacific
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - CHARAXINAE
Yapen Island, West Irian
There are 24 species in the genus
Polyura, most of which are found in the
Oriental region, although one species
posidonius is restricted to Tibet and west China; 6 or 7 are
endemic to various islands, e.g. andrewsi
from Christmas Island and caphontis
from Fiji; and one, pyrrhus reaches
Queensland in Australia.
The butterflies are
characterised by their distinctive wing shape with twin tails on the
hindwings, a feature strongly reminiscent of the African
Charaxes. Most have dark brown
uppersides with bands of dazzling creamy white which vary in size
and shape from one species to another. These bands are repeated on
the underside, usually in a beautiful shade of pale green. In a few
species such as delphis the underside
is almost entirely white.
is found in West Irian, the Bismark archipelago, Bougainville, the
Admiralty islands and probably elsewhere in the Papuan region.
This species inhabits rainforest at elevations between sea level and
I have no data regarding
jupiter, but the lifecycle is likely to
be very similar to that of other Polyura
species: The eggs are spherical, shiny and usually yellow. They are
laid on the underside of leaves of the foodplants. The larvae when
fully grown are green, and frequently have prominent diagonal stripes.
They have large heads adorned with a crown of 4 long horns. They feed
nocturnally on the foliage of various trees and shrubs e.g.
Adenanthera, Peltophorum and
Leucaena ( Fabaceae ),
Grewia ( Malvaceae ) and
Caesalpinia ( Caesalpinaceae ). The
chrysalis is green, and has a plump, rounded and compressed abdomen.
It is attached by a stout pedunculate cremaster to a twig or stem on
or near the foodplant.
Males are strongly attracted to carnivore faeces. Once feeding they
are very reluctant to leave their meal. If forcibly ejected they fly
very rapidly up into nearby trees, but invariably return within a few
minutes. It is not uncommon to find 3 or 4
Polyura males of mixed species crowding over fresh dung.