I have always had trouble identifying butterflies from the various field guides and the first example below shows clearly how different a live animal is from the dead specimen illustrated on the left, which has the wings relaxed and the pattern destroyed. We have tried as far as possible to obtain live photos for this guide.

 Drawing of dead specimen


Photo of Live specimen

Jamaican Swallowtail (Papilio melonius). It used to be recognized as the smallest subspecies of Papilio thoas, but molecular analyses reveal it to be a unique species.

Compare dead specimen with live animal on the right!

Jamaican Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Pterourus homerus -formerly called Papilio homerus) at Windsor. Species is on Appendix I of CITES and is protected under Jamaica's Wild Life Protection Act (1945) and Endangered Species (Protection, Conservation and Regulation of Trade) Act (2000). You could be fined up-to JM$ 100,000 or spend one year in a Jamaican jail if you have one in your possession without a permit. The fine increases to JM$ 2,000,000 if you attempt to smuggle a specimen off-island, and repeat offenses could land you in a Jamaican jail for 10 years. This endemic species is the largest swallowtail butterfly in the New World. It historically ranged in at least seven parishes across the island but is presently restricted to Cockpit Country and sections of the Blue and John Crow Mountains. In 1988 it was listed in the World's top twelve endangered species of all categories by the IUCN. Research of the population in the Blue and John Crow Mountains indicates that this species suffers high mortality due to egg parasitism when there are high levels of forest degradation in its breeding areas.

We are also pleased to announce that we have received funding from the Dutch foundation Zoos Help to carry out surveys for this species (and associated education) in the Mount Diablo area of St Anns

Blue Swallowtail or Jamaican Kite Swallowtail (Protographium (Eurytides) marcellinus) at Windsor. This is one of our endemic butterflies and it is protected under the Wild Life Protection Act (1945). You could be fined up-to J$100,000 or spend one year in jail if you have one butterfly in your possession without a permit. Multiple animals = multiple offenses: each one counts. Until our sighting, St Thomas was reported to be the only known parish where it bred (Jamaica Naturalist Vol 4 Dec 1994). We have now observed this butterfly annually at Windsor. A strong direct flier, the Blue Kite Swallowtail always seems to be going somewhere with a mission! We were pleased to obtain our first photos of this animal (rather battered) trapped inside the house.
Caribbean Swallowtail (Papilio pelaus pelaus) at Windsor (28/07/04)


"I would thou didst itch from head to foot and I had the scratching of thee" says Thersites to Ajax in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida"

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