Archive for December, 2010

The Hahnel’s Amazonian Swallowtail (Parides hahneli) butterfly has been known for nearly a century, but its reasonably dense colonies been only discovered at the end of 20th century have. The species is restricted to few localities of ancient sandy riverbanks along tributaries of the lower middle Amazonian Basin of central Brazil, in the states of Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Amazonas and Pará.

 Natural history of this butterfly is poorly known. The host plant of larvae is Aristolochia collectively known as birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman’s pipe. The Hahnel’s Amazonian Swallowtail is probably limited by the distribution and density of the plant. The only current threat to this species is over-collecting for commercial purposes. The species can be bred in captivity, but collecting sites are guarded in secret in view of potential commercial value. Scientific work on the species has not yet started.

 Until the most recent localities of this species were found, just 20 collected specimens were known. It is very likely that a series of five specimens of this unique species retained in the Manchester Museum originated from that series of 20 specimens.

A specimen of the Hahnel's Amazonian Swallowtail from the Manchester Museum's collection.

The photographed specimen is one of the Swallowtail butterflies from the large collection world Papilionidae sensu lato (with the inclusion of Parnassius) of David Longsdon, received by bequest in 1937-38. The collection is well set and labelled (dated from 1890 to 1936), and arranged according to zoogeographic regions. It contains many currently red-listed or threatened species, as the one described in this post.

 The text is mainly based on the following book: Collins, N. Mark and Michael G. Morris (1985) Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. IUCN, Cambridge, U.K. 401 pp. (see pp. 242 to 243).

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