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African mocker swallowtail (Papilo dardanus)

African/Mocker swallowtail, collected in Africa

African/Mocker swallowtail, collected in Africa

This is one of the best preserved insect specimens from a collection of ethnographic and natural history specimens collected by the medical missionary and famous African explorer Dr David Livingstone. All the specimens were collected from Africa. The collection was bequested to us by David’s oldest son Thomas Steele Livingstone in 1877.
The specimen is a mocker swallowtail butterfly, Papilio dardanus. This large and attractive butterfly is found in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is common in wooded and forested areas and regularly takes nectar from garden flowers. Although they are actually harmless, the females of this species can mimic a number of poisonous butterflies; which helps them deter predators – hence the common name Mocker. Our specimen is a male; you can tell because the males are yellow, with black markings and have tails on their wings.

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