I’m breaking my Swallowtails sightings from the Papilioninae Subfamily (Papilionidae Family) down into three groupings by tribe, of which there are three:
Within the Leptocircini Tribe, there are nine genera:
Graphium (Paranticopsis) (7)
To date, I have captured 7 from this tribe in Hainan, China, and 1 in Laos. All photos are mine, and I took most between 2017 and 2020.
Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon)
Boasting the scientific name that hearkens back to the Greek king, Agamemnon, this butterfly wears a fireworks display on its wings. Depending on when you come across it, you may see bright green spots or seemingly black-and-white spots on the inside wings. ,The outer wings, though, are where the colors really shine. How many colors can you see in the individuals above? The Tailed Jay is definitely a gorgeous study in contrasts.
Common Jay (Graphium doson)
Granted, these aren’t the clearest pictures, but hopefully they’ll assist in identifying future sightings. I’ve found the so-called “Common Jay” far less common than the Tailed Jay, at least locally. It’s otherwise the most widespread butterfly in the Graphium genus, specifically in Australia and Africa. This butterfly lacks the tail and boasts a beautiful sky-blue and red against an almost black-and-white background.
Great Jay (Graphium eurypylus)
I’ve only seen this fella once, while hiking in the east part of Hainan Island. It looks very similar to the Common Jay, though its bar sizes and placement differ. I’m no authority on Greek Mythology, but this one is likely named after Eurypylus from The Aeneid (there’s like 20 famous Eurypyluses….er, Eurypylusi?). Whatever, he’s a cool butterfly, very darty and a big fan of puddling.
Lesser Zebra (Graphium macareus)
The genera name has recently changed for this fella, so while he’s technically within the Graphium genus along with all those seen above, he’s officially placed within a separate category, the Paranticopsis or “Zebra” genus. I’ve seen this species just once in Hainan, at the beautiful E’Xian Ling (ridge) in the southwestern part of the island. I caught him as I’ve caught so many others, puddling. Please pardon the poor shot!
Spotted Zebra (Graphium megarus)
There’s very little to say about this lost sheep. It’s not detailed in many of the books or on many of the websites, so I call him “The Extra” in the drama of life. He’s there in the background, good looking, but lacking those unique qualifiers that would make him a leading man.
Spot Swordtail (Graphium nomius)
High on my list of all-time favorite butterflies is this, the Spot Swordtail, common to Australasia. While I had only ever seen him DongFang, Hainan, I finally caught one of these Hainan sub-species in Sanya in 2019. I’ve only seen them active in March and April on the Island, so bear that in mind if you’re ever out looking! Despite the reddish marking on the outer wings, this butterfly is extremely hard to spot among the dry twigs of DongFang…but when you finally see him, it’s worth all that persistent hunting!
Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon)
This flighty swallowtail has quick reactions and is difficult to catch. Too often I’ve come away with half-hidden, blurry-winged photographs. Thankfully, I was able to lure this Common Bluebottle with a puddle of burned-out garbage (for the minerals). Like a true lepidopterist. But in my defense, there were no cinnamon trees (his favorite) available.
White Dragontail Butterfly (Lamproptera curius)
The first time I saw a small colony of these flitting around the base of the waterfall, I thought sure they were Streamglories or damselflies of some sort. The patter of their wings was too fluid. There was too much pizzazz. But then when I saw them land, boy! I was so excited to study them and to capture their imbibing of the stream water. This truly was a highlight of my visit to Laos.
Green Dragontail Butterfly (Lamproptera meges)
So what could possibly get more excited than seeing the White Dragontail Butterfly in Laos? How about seeing the Green Dragontail Butterfly 50 minutes from my own home in Hainan!? When I saw that same sparkly flittering, I knew immediately what it was, though I didn’t yet have it down to species. This one posed well for me. I imagine it was relatively fresh out of the chrysalis, judging by the perfection of his wings. If I were a bird, I’d be chomping those things to bits! This individual is one of ten subspecies, the V. meges virescens. Cool fact: they suck up a whole lot of water to filter out the nutrients, then shoot the rest out of ye olde anus. I didn’t catch that on camera, sadly.
Check back for more, as I’ll update these pages with new sightings as they happen!