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Common Rose Swallowtail

Common Rose Swallowtail
Photo Information
Copyright: Ram Thakur (ramthakur) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4316 W: 231 N: 14052] (56953)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-09-14
Categories: Insects
Camera: Nikon D200, Sigma EX 105mm F2.8 DG Macro, 58mm UV
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/1000 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Pentaxfriend's favorites 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-09-15 7:31
Viewed: 6625
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 64
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Friends, my wife and I were invited to judge an inter school debate at Mayo College Ajmer where both of us had taught English from 1977 to 1989. So we left for Ajmer on the previous Friday and returned to Delhi this morning. Ajmer is about 400 KM west of New Delhi in the desert state of Rajsthan. Some of you who might have visited Rajasthan must be aware that it is one of the most interesting states in India.
Between series of debating sessions, I was able to sneak off with my camera to shoot birds and butterflies on the school campus. Spread over nearly 350 acres, the campus is a veritable sanctuary for a variety of wild life. I shot mostly butterflies this time and a few birds.
Here is a butterfly that goes by the name of Common Rose Swallowtail. I shot it for the first time during my recent visit to Goa. This one shot in Rajasthan is a bit tatty but beautiful all the same.
Here is a note on the species borrowed from Wikipedia:

The Common Rose (Atrophaneura (Pachliopta) aristolochiae) is a swallowtail butterfly belonging to the Pachliopta subgenus, the Roses, of the genus Atrophaneura or Red-bodied Swallowtails. It is a common butterfly which is extensively distributed across South and South East Asia.


It is widely distributed in Asia. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India(includes Andaman islands) , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan (south-western Okinawa only), Laos, Vietnam, Kampuchea(now Cambodia), Nicobar islands, peninsular and eastern Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines (Palawan and Leyte), Indonesia.

In China, it is distributed in southern and eastern China (including Hainan, Guangdong province), Hong Kong and Taiwan. In Indonesia, it is distributed in Sumatra, Nias, Enggano, Bangka, Java, Bali, Kangean, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Tanahjampea and Kalimantan.


The Upperside of male is velvety black.

Fore wing with well-marked pale adnervular streaks on the discal area that do not reach the terminal margin, the latter broadly velvety black; the streaks beyond end of cell extended inwards into its apex.

Hind wing with elongate white discal markings in interspaces 2-5 beyond the cell.

In dry-weather specimens these markings are very short and do not nearly reach the bases of the interspaces; beyond these a curved series of subterminal lunular markings in interspaces 1 to 7 dull crimson irrorated with black scales, the spot in interspace 1 large, irregular, diffuse, margined interiorly with white.
On the Underside of the males, the ground-colour and markings are similar, but the red subterminal spots on the hind wing are much brighter;it is not irrorated with black scales, better defined, the anterior four subquadrate, the next two crescentic, sometimes quadrate also, the spot in interspace 1 triangular and pointed. Antennae, thorax and abdomen above up to the preanal segment black; the head, sides of prothorax above, and of the whole of the thorax and abdomen beneath vermilion-red; anal segment vermilion-red.

Female is similar to the males; it differs from the male only in the comparatively broader wings and this is most conspicuous in the fore wing.


An excellent generalist which has adapted to a range of habitats, the butterfly has been found in congregations at lower elevations. The Common Rose is found up to 8000 feet in the Western Ghats and South Indian Hills, up to 5000 feet at the Eastern end of the Himalayas but only up to 3000 feet in the North Western Himalayas. The butterfly is a common visitor to Indian gardens and can even be found in crowded urban areas.


It is the commonest of the large tailed butterflies of India and one of the most interesting butterflies for the Indian amateur naturalist to observe.

The red body, slow peculiar flight, bright colouration and pattern of the wings are meant to indicate to predators that this butterfly is inedible, being well protected by the poisons it has sequestered from its larval food plant. It also emits a nasty smelling substance when handled to further enhance its unappealing qualities. Hence it is rarely attacked by predators, a strategy so successful, that edible butterflies have evolved to mimic it, the classical example being that of the female morph of the Common Mormon that is Papilio polytes, female form stichius.

The Common Rose frequently visits flowers such as Lantana, Cosmos, Zinnia, Jatropha and Clerodendron. The butterfly occasionally also visits wet patches. In parts of Sri Lanka, the males are known to congregate and form a beautiful sight while mud-puddling.

The Common Rose is active much earlier in the mornings than most butterflies and remains so throughout the day until dusk. It flies just as readily in the shade as in the sun, and frequently visits flowers.

In drier regions around noon, the butterfly rests in thickets to avoid the mid-day heat. Here, it will rest and venture forth only in the late afternoon once again.

In the evenings, it retires into wooded areas or thickets in search of dead twigs or small branches on which to roost. It prefers sites that are 10 to 15 feet above ground, below the canopy in trees with sufficient cover from the elements, where it frequently roosts in the company of others of its type, and, sometimes, in the company of the Crimson Rose.

It flies high, slowly and often descends to nectar on flowers below. On such occasions, it often dives down with its wings held back, and as it approaches the flower, the wings open up to provide deceleration. The butterfly primarily depends on motive thrust on the powerful flapping of its forewings while the hind wings act as a balancing and steering mechanism. This flying technique gives a rather unusual look to its flight and an observer is left with the impression that it is dragging itself through the air with only the assistance of its forewings.

The Common Rose is often the preferred species to show the amateur naturalist the utility of the tails in steering. This can be most easily observed when the Common Rose hovers over flowers to sip nectar. Then, its forewings beat readily to give it buoyancy while the tails move delicately to steer and adjust its position.

It has been considered in the past that these tails are primarily for deception as in the case of the Lycaenids where the thread-like tails resemble antennae and confuse the attacker as to the location of the head. On occasions, Roses have been observed with damaged tails and it is possible that the presence of swallowtails occasionally does favour the butterfly in confusing attackers.

Collectors over the years have found the red-bodied swallowtails hard to kill. The pinch on the thorax which kills most butterflies is easily withstood, and, apparently only stuns the butterfly temporarily. It recovers quickly and flies out of the net to the utter consternation of the unwary collector.

Thanks for looking and have a nice day.

Argus, eqshannon, pankajbajpai, Pentaxfriend, cedryk, efsus, crs, Arjun, red45, jrobertop, jconceicao, nglen, flashpoint, matatur, cicindela, bahadir, siggi, haraprasan, sandpiper2, Miss_Piggy, RII, rcrick, soccer, oanaotilia has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-09-15 7:37]

Let me be the first to congratulate you on this fantastiocally beautiful capture, Ram!
Technically excellent image of A. aristochiae and esthetically wonderful.
Well done my friend and thanks for sharing this delight!
Best wishes, Ivan

Lovely well rounded college...I took an internet tour. Looks pretty pricey eh? And as you mention in notes...a fairly large grounds about.
the swallowtail looks as though it has done its share of battle! body is in good shape however...and retains the original colour. good thing we do not change dramatically in colour via damage...although some do in certain circumstances...Very nice under all conditions...

hello sir,

we have started missing you here and also worried because of the incidents at delhi. i hope that your visit to Ajmer was a great one.

I am trying to capture this species of butterfly since long time but never got success so far and today you have posted this lovely specimen and i am more then happy writing critiques for it.

The butterfly is sipping nectar from zinia, a beautiful flower, the composition is lovely and the colors are well saturated, the wings have a blurred effect capturing the movement,

well done,
tfs & regards

Hi Ram,

Excellent capture
Beautifull square composition with Perfect DOF and Superb sharpness
i also like the POV and the vivid colors

TFS Thijs

  • Great 
  • efsus Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 415 W: 11 N: 843] (3947)
  • [2008-09-15 8:48]

Merhaba Ram,
Muhteşem bir makro ve muhteşem bir kompozisyon. Rnkler, keskinlik ve detaylar çok güzel çalışılmış. Seyri çok hoş bir kare. Eline sağlık.


  • cedryk Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 50 N: 1722] (5270)
  • [2008-09-15 8:51]

Hello Ram,
Nice to see another photo from you after my long break on TN. It is an interesting square frame with nice composition. I like the pose of this butterfly, it's almost stretched legs and trembilng (blurry) wings show that it's just ready to depart in case of slightest danger.
All the best!

  • Great 
  • crs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 922] (3551)
  • [2008-09-15 9:11]

Hello Ram,

What a wonderfull photo. Colors are so beautifull with a perfect match between insect, flower and background. Excelent sharpness showing great details of the nicely colored insect's body.

Thank you for sharing,

Hi Ram,
you captured the body of this butterfly extremely sharp.
Colors and composition are very ebautiful.
TFS Tatjana

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2008-09-15 10:17]

Hello Ram!

Another very 'common' butterfly :-) Beautifull mix of black and red colours. Perfectly composed with colorfull flower. Great note too.

  • Great 
  • mariki Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 838 W: 60 N: 2307] (9477)
  • [2008-09-15 10:18]

Hello Ram,

Very nice presentation of this colourful butterfly. Excellent POV, DOF and sharpness. Great light and colours.

Hello Ram.
A spectacular picture!!
Fine contrast, details and colours.
Very well composed, great perspective.
My compliments and TFS this beauty.
José Roberto

  • Great 
  • cako Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 485 W: 0 N: 772] (3395)
  • [2008-09-15 10:49]

Hi Ram
exellent image
very well done.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-09-15 11:01]

Hello Ram,
A photo in stunning colours. The contrasts against the BG are splendid. Very good sharpness and a fantastic composition, POV and DOF.
Kind regards,

Hello Ram,

Wonderful photo.
Beautiful colours with excellent details.
Light and composition are fantastic.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-09-15 11:27]

Hi Ram. Firstly may i thank you for your intersting notes . I think if you had been my school master i my have learnt a bit more. As you say the beautiful butterfly looks a little worn out around the edges. A bit like i look in the morning . But you still have fine detail and bright colours. The blur in the wings gives a sence of movement. TFS.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-09-15 11:30]

Hi Ram,
A beautiful swallowtail in a beautiful composition. The details are fantastic and the colors are wonderful. Pretty flowers and a lovely bg.
Regards Siggi

Hello Sir,
What a beautiful species and what a great capture with an action on the wings, TFS.
Best Regards, Nasit.

hi Ram,
fabulous post .. Common Rose Swallowtail captured so perfect with the colors and excellent focus.

best regards sERGIO

Hello Ram,
After all the weeks and months of photographical fasting it was a real pleasure to behold another one of your masterpieces in nature reproduction. The lateral aspect of this feeding swallowtail, in all its fine colouration on the wonderfully pink flower forms a perfect composition against that delightfully OOF BG. A pity the wings are a little damaged, but nature gives and nature takes away...

Excellent presentation and a wonderful photo of this beautiful creature! The background is perfect, showing the butterfly to best advantage.


  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-09-15 22:41]

Hi Ram sir,
Outstanding shot of this so beautiful Crimson Rose with immaculate sharpness, colours and details. Fabulous pose captured on the zinnia flower and you have handled the natural lighting so well. I think it was fluttering its wings. Excellent DOF, POV and composition. Thanks for sharing this great image.

Hello Sir Ram, Beautiful capture of this swallowtail butterfly. Excellent exposure and DOF. Great sharpness. TFS.

Hello Ram!
Great and very colourful presentation. This species looks like a king on the thron :) Lovely, very optimistic composition with good DOF and POV. Impressive note too, full of details about ecology and biology of species :)
Greetings and TFS!
Friendly yours,

Hi Mr. Ram,
A nice capture of this beautiful common rose butterfly. Very well composed shot with good details. And I like the light and colors here a lot. Thanks a lot for sharing.


Hi Ram

A fine shot of this most beautiful butterfly. The body and flower are pin sharp. I assume it was fluttering its wings like most swallowtails do.
Great composition and sharpness. Easy to see how their pollen-laden legs act as a polinator in this case.


Hi Ram,
Mükemmel renkler.

Hallo Ram
As usually a beautiful posting from you. This is really striking. The colours, patterns and detail is really displayed with such clarity and precision. Focus and sharpness is done expertly, especially on the body area. The soft colour of your background, together with the lovely pink of the "Jacob regop" flower emphasise the beauty of this insect. Technically this is an splendid capture and presentation. I cannot really say more than congratulantions and well done. I hope you can hear the clapping, as this one certainly deserves a round of applause. Kind regards and thanks for sharing.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-09-16 6:30]

Hello Sir,This is brilliant shot. Superb. I can see the pollen on the legs of the fly and the tiny legs. Excellent composition and superb view. Ganesh

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-09-16 10:40]

What a stunning image!
The colours are beautiful.
Very sharp with great clarity.
Excellent BG and DOF.

Well done, Ram!


Dear Ram,

A wonderful shot of this stunning Common Rose Swallowtail, the detail is superb, and the colours in the whole composition are just beautiful, perfect POV, a real masterpiece,

Kind Regards, Rick:)

  • Great 
  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2008-09-17 1:00]

Lovely composition,POV.Colours are come out very well.


A very well composed pic that shows the subject and it's environment very well. I really like th OOF BG and DOF which allows good detail of the subject to be shown in the image. The colours and the variety of colour in the image is excellent and a very good posting!

  • Great 
  • RII Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 481 W: 0 N: 895] (2862)
  • [2008-09-18 23:22]

Hi Ram.

fantastic capture, the colors ,tones ,contrast and sharpness is wonderfull, the note is complet,nice composition.


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