Atrophaneura varuna (White, 1842)

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The fore wings:  

The hind wings:   

The body:  

Sex differences:

Variation and infraspecific taxa:

Similar species:

Habitat: Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane,Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
The species can be found in closed-forest habitats within Northeast India, with rainfall suggested to be a determinant of abundance of this species (Barua et al. 2010). The subspecies astorion has been found flying in forests in Laos, with the species mostly found east of the limestone mountains that separate central and southern Laos (Cotton and Racheli 2006). Subspecies zaleucus can be found in forested areas within Laos, across the Mekong river valley (Cotton and Racheli 2006). Subspecies zaleucus flies at the edge of forests and is never prolific and never found flying on open cultivated land (Kimura et al. 2011). This subspecies can also be found (flying individually) on jungle slopes surrounding the Haew Narok waterfall in the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand (Boy 2005). Subspecies varuna and zaleucus have also been found on the same mountainous region of Phou Pha Man, Koun Ngun valley, with varuna occurring only 200 m higher than zaleucus (Cotton and Racheli 2006). Subspecies astorion has been found across mud puddles and shrubland in addition to forests in Assam, India (Saikia et al. 2015). Males have been suggested to prefer mud puddles, with females preferring dense forests and evergreen forest paths where larval host plants are available (Kunte et al. 2012). It occurs in warm tropical forest in Nepal where Shorea robusta forest is dominant and in subtropical forest where Castanopsis and Alnus species occur (B. Khanal, pers. comm. February 2019). Across Bangladesh, the species is found in mixed-evergreen forests (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of Bangladesh 2015). The species is also known to be an elegant and slow flyer (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of Bangladesh 2015).

Larval foodplants include Aristolochiaceae , and specifically Aristolochia species (B. Khanal, pers. comm. February 2019), such as Aristolochia tagala (Corbet and Pendlebury 1992). Adults of subspecies zaleucus seem to favour nectaring on Sombucus chinensis plants (Cotton and Racheli 2006). This subspecies was observed in Thailand between April and December (Boy 2005). The species was recorded in western Arunachal Pradesh during the pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons (Sondhi and Kunte 2016). The species mimics Histia flabellicornis (Monastyrskii 2015). The species visits mostly Lantana flowers, at least in Nepal (B. Khanal pers. comm. February 2019). It appears in April-May and July and the larva feeds on Aristolochia species (B. Khanal pers. comm. February 2019).
(IUCN 2020)

Population: According to a previous status assessment of the world's swallowtails in 1985, this species was not considered rare across most of its range, though uncommon particularly within Peninsular Malaysia (Collins and Morris 1985). The species is believed to be extinct in Singapore (Collins and Morris 1985). It is described as locally rare in Northeast India as a whole, although very rare in Tripura, India (Barua et al. 2010, Lodh and Agarwala 2015). It was considered common in parts of western Arunachal Pradesh (Sondhi and Kunte 2016). The species is also described as rare in Bangladesh (Shihan 2016). Subspecies varuna is found only in the peninsula of Thailand but is rather frequent there (Kimura et al. 2011). Subspecies astorion is rather rare (Kimura et al. 2011). Subspecies astorion is thought to have a low population density within Laos (Cotton and Racheli 2006). A 2005 study in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, however suggested that the density of subspecies zaleucus varies considerably over time (Boy 2005).
Range: This species occurs in India (Uttarakhand to northeastern India and including: Aruanchal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal), possibly Eastern Nepal, Bhutan and from Bangladesh (especially the southeast and northeast) to Myanmar, Thailand, Northern Laos, Northern Vietnam, and Peninsular Malaysia (Collins and Morris 1985, Larsen 2004, Cotton et al. 2013, IUCN Bangladesh 2015, Lodh and Agarwala 2015, Varshney and Smetacek 2015, Shihan 2016). Subspecies zaleucus occurs in Myanmar, Thailand (in the continental regions), Northern Laos, Northern Vietnam, and Southwestern China (Yunnan; and Guangxi based on specimen in Naturalis Biodiversity Center) (Collins and Morris 1985, Chou 1994, Kimura et al. 2011, Hu 2017, J. Moonen pers. comm. April 2019), with an uncertain distribution in Southern Thailand (Kimura et al. 2011). In Malaysia, the species is thought to fly at higher elevations, with subspecies astorion reaching approximately 120-1,400 m in elevation (Collins and Morris 1985, Sondhi and Kunte 2016). In Bangladesh, the species is found in the Sylhet region; the National Red List of Bangladesh additionally suggests the species occurs at five known locations (with an extent of occurrence of 8,282 km2 and area of occupancy of 314 km2) (Larsen 2004, IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of Bangladesh 2015). This species is represented by the subspecies astorion in Nepal and is recorded both from east and west Nepal (Smith 1989, B. Khanal pers. comm. February 2019). Its altitudinal range in Nepal is 606 to 1,605 m (Smith 1989). The same subspecies flies in Bhutan where it is reported from lowland forest of Sunkosh river basin (Singh 2012) and Royal Manas National park at 2,130 m asl (Nidup 2015, Nidup et al. 2015). Its global estimated extent of occurrence exceeds 5 million km2.
(IUCN 2020)

Occurrence and observation maps

Map of Life

Host plants (as foodsource for larvae (L) or adults (A)) :


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