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Zerynthia polyxena.

Zerynthia polyxena.
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter Stoeckl (peter_stoeckl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1738 W: 291 N: 4005] (11530)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1979-05-12
Categories: Insects
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): European Butterflies 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-01-05 6:20
Viewed: 6477
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 34
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Zerynthia polyxena (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)

Osterluzeifalter, Southern Festoon, la Diane, Polissena.

Exquisitely coloured and patterned, even at rest.

Conspicuous wing colours may have been enforced by evolution for two reasons.

One reason is intraspecies communication that usually means signalling attraction to the opposite sex of the same species. This is what many birds are doing, and also many butterflies, particularly from the Lycaenidae and the Nymphalidae family. With butterflies applying that kind of focussed visual communication, the under side of wings shown at rest usually is rather inconspicuous for reasons of camouflage. It pays to be as invisible as possible to predators (interspecies communication).

The other reason for applying conspicuous colours is warning. In this case intraspecies communication (with males or females of its kind) and interspecies communication (with potential predators) may come together at day active butterflies. The fact of being poisonous encourages to display warning colours also at the resting position.

Yellow alone usually does not come as a warning, the combination of yellow and black does. The classical warning colours yellow and black (well known to us from the wasp) do a good job both with predators that can see colours (e.g. birds), and with predators that are not good in seeing colours (most mammals), as this combination of colours also shows a strong contrast in luminance. Yellow may be replaced or reinforced by red or bright blue as a warning signal always coming together with black. A good example may be the attached Zerynthia polyxena.

Usually, for reasons unknown, members of the Homo sapiens species would say: “What a beautiful butterfly” at seeing Z. polyxena. Insect eating predators certainly would not agree.

Wingspread: approx. 50mm.

This picture was taken early in May 1979 near the village of Stillfried in Eastern Lower Austria, with rather primitive equipment. The very short depth of focus is a result of the strong Macro lens under insufficient light conditions.

Camera: Minolta SRT 101b, with Tele 150mm and Macro lens +3, no flash, no tripod. Colour slide film Ektachrome 100.

For joining this picture with you at TN I have scanned the original colour slide with slide scanner Minolta Dimage Scan Dual II (the hell of a job).

The scan was treated with some selective sharpening of wings and body, and noise reduction to the background, same as with the picture of the same species provided yesterday. Nigel (Merlin), thank you for the fine workshop you did on that one. It greatly helped to improve the result.

Demetrio, hansh, goldfinchtr, tinman, wishnugaruda, Merlin, phlr, dew77, cedryk, TheMystic, nirmalroberts, Alex99 has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To winterpalace: ... mimicrypeter_stoeckl 1 12-15 14:25
poisonouswinterpalace 1 11-29 07:27
To nirmalroberts: Thank you.peter_stoeckl 1 11-18 08:02
To Merlin: polyxenapeter_stoeckl 2 01-06 18:01
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Critiques [Translate]

BEAUTIFUL capture.

Excellent clarity and colours. DOF is perfect.


Very nice shot on this beauty with sharp detail.

  • Great 
  • hansh Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 277 W: 1 N: 741] (2762)
  • [2006-01-05 6:59]

A beautiful picture of a beautiful butterfly. Never so one this before. Well done and thanks.

Great shot, a very colorful subject indeed. First time i have seen a picture of one of these. Very good note !


Great pic, excellent note. Well done

Hi Peter

Running late this morning, but enough time to see that this is an excellent post. Good POV, clarity and details. TFS.

Hi again, Peter:
What a strange resting posture for a butterfly! I will really need to make an effort to see this species in 2006 in Europe - the UK is hopeless for butterflies now, even the "common" species are hard to find. Thanks again for showing this one to us.
Best wishes, Nigel.

Hi Peter,
kaum zu glauben daß dieses Foto schon bald 30 Jahre alt ist, wow!
Dieser Schmetterling ist wundervoll.
Vielen Dank für's Zeigen, tschüssi
Sabine - wishnugaruda

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2006-01-05 18:12]

Very impressive shot and butterfly. Good composition and very interresting note. Thanks,


  • Great 
  • phlr Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 130 N: 882] (2821)
  • [2006-01-06 4:08]

Excellent photo of this Papilionidae!
The Zerynthia polyxena (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775) is really a very beautiful specie!
Wonderful colours!
Very good POV!
Very good BG too!

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2006-01-06 4:10]

Hello Peter!
Magnificent close up.I liked clear details,POV,lighting,framing,simple BG and composition a lot.Excellent work!TFS...:-)

  • Great 
  • Dando Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 637 W: 32 N: 792] (3084)
  • [2006-01-06 4:21]

Great composition, the golds and blacks contrast well against the green, really gives the photo depth. TFS.

Hello Peter,
Very interesting POV, great colours and delicate light.
Excellent note!
Best greetings,

This looks almost Alien, Peter! I've never seen anything like that. You must have a very good eye, and lots of patience to find these! Great composition to present it in all glory!

Hi Peter,
The little creature really looks poisonous by colour as well as posture. Your note is very informative.
Thanks for sharing.
- Nirmal

Hi Peter

Interesting the colour display as a warning. Of course also used for mimicry to deceive potential predators.



  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2011-01-02 9:47]

Hi Peter.
Only watching this picture and previous your shot taken at different POV I have realize that this is the same species. As I have written pictured this species at similar POVs and I thought that these are different species. Thanks a lot for new knowledge.

Amazing POV which gives a nice idea of this species.
Yours Alexei.

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