Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 179–188 | Cite as

The population biology and ecology of the Homerus swallowtail, Papilio (Pterourus) homerus, in the Cockpit Country, Jamaica

  • Matthew S. LehnertEmail author
Original Paper


The Homerus swallowtail, Papilio (Pterourus) homerus (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae), is an endangered species of butterfly endemic to Jamaica. As the largest species of the genus Papilio in the world and the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere, this rare butterfly once inhabited most of Jamaica but has now dwindled into two tiny populations: an eastern population, found where the Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains merge, and a western population in the Cockpit Country. The present research focused on the previously unstudied Cockpit Country population of P. homerus; most previous information about this species is derived from studies of the eastern population. The purpose was to estimate the size of the remaining population in the Cockpit Country using MRR protocols, while making observations to better understand its ecology. Sampling consisted of carefully netting the butterfly, marking a permanent ink number on the wing (metallic Sharpie® marker), and recording winglength, wing condition, time, and sex. The population was found to be very small, estimated at fewer than 50 flying individuals. Many observations were made about the ecology of the species. These new data suggest a conservation plan is strongly needed, coupled with a breeding program to increase numbers of this extraordinary butterfly.


Mark-recapture Homerus Ecology Conservation Endangered 



I would like to thank Drs. Eric Garraway and Audette Bailey for sharing their vast knowledge of P. homerus and for their advice, and Delano Lewis for his help in the field. I would also like to thank Stan and Janet Greenwood for all of their hospitality during my stay in Jamaica. I also thank Richard H. Lehnert and Dr. Charlie Baer for editorial advice. I am indebted to Dr. Thomas C. Emmel for inviting me to work on this project with this species.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Entomology and NematologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity Research, Florida Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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