Advertisement

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. Lehnert
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Mark-recapture Homerus Ecology Conservation Endangered 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

References

  1. Avinoff A, Shoumatoff N (1940) Jamaican summer. Carn Mag 14:175–182Google Scholar
  2. Brown FM, Heineman B (1972) Jamaica and its butterflies. E.W. Classey, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Collins NM, Morris MG (1985) Threatened swallowtail butterflies of the world: the IUCN red data book. IUCN, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Emmel TC (1995) Saving endangered Swallowtails—the conservation biology of Papilio aristodemus ponceanus in Florida and P. homerus in Jamaica. In: Scriber JM, Yoshitaka T, Lederhouse RC (eds) Swallowtail butterflies: their ecology and evolutionary biology. Scientific Publishers Inc., Gainesville, Florida, pp 359–369Google Scholar
  5. Emmel TC, Garraway E (1990) Ecology and conservation biology of the Homerus swallowtail in Jamaica (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Trop Lep 1(2):63–76Google Scholar
  6. Emmel TC, Garraway E (1994) Drama in the Caribbean: the homerus swallowtail’s fight for survival in Jamaica. Am But 2(4):20–25Google Scholar
  7. Gall LF (1985) Measuring the size of lepidopteran populations. J Res Lep 24:97–116Google Scholar
  8. Garraway E, Bailey AJA, Emmel TC (1993) Contribution to the ecology and conservation biology of the endangered Papilio homerus (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Trop Lep 4(2):83–91Google Scholar
  9. Panton ES (1893) A description of the larva of Papilio homerus. J Inst Jam (Kingston) 1:375–376Google Scholar
  10. Swainson EM (1901) Notes on lepidopterous larvae from Jamaica. J New York Ent Soc 9:77–82Google Scholar
  11. Taylor CB (1894) Description of the larva and pupa of Papilio homerus, Fab. Trans Entomol Soc Lond 1894:409–410Google Scholar
  12. Turner TW (1991) Papilio homerus (Papilionidae) in Jamaica, West Indies: field observations and a description of the immature stages. J Lep Soc 45:259–271Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations