On 12 January I decided to read on the veranda of Volunteer House 3. Just after the rain stopped, my attention was caught by something that looked like Battus crassus, an Aristolochia vine feeding Troidini swallowtail not common in this time of the year, or its smaller mimic Heliconius sara apseudes. But something seemed not to fit, so I stayed seated on my chair observing the butterfly insistently circling the Lime tree and noticed there were no flowers at all on it. Oh oh, this could be a female laying eggs? But wait a minute, Battus swallowtails don’t lay eggs on Citrus trees! With this ‘Red alert’ I got up and ran to see closer.
It vanished for a while, came back and perched for a minute on a top branch, close enough to see that the forewing looked like Battus crassus, but the hindwing had a series of blue lunules, absent from the mentioned trodin. I couldn’t figure out what it might be, not a Mimoides sp. because these have red dots on the body and lay eggs on Annona and Lauraceae, so it just came to my mind that it could be something that I have never seen in 17 years of living in Brazil, a female of Heraclides androgeus laodocus! It came back twice and I saw it lay one egg. I was so excited that I forgot to run for the camera and then it vanished. I have found five eggs. I’m going to try to rear a couple of the eggs laid in the lab, and see if I can get nice pictures of the recently emerged adults. This is for sure a gorgeous butterfly, and only 15 m from the REGUA administration office!
This is not only a new REGUA record, but also new for the Três Picos State Park – PETP! I have seen just one male in Boca do Mato, above Cachoeiras on the road to Nova Friburgo. The male is huge, even larger than Heraclides thoas brasiliensis, the species more commonly seen sipping water from mud around the wetlands.
Further information on Androgeus Swallowtail Heraclides androgeus laodocus: