Cook Islands Philatelic Bureau (Philatelic Collector Inc.)

Cook Islands

xx March 2020

Butterflies of the World (Part 2)

Cook Islands: Butterflies of the World, (Part 2) March 2020. Image from Colnect.

Technical Specifications:

Issued in: 2020-03
Size: 138 x 122 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Format: Souvenir Sheet
Printing: Offset lithography
Face value: 13.50 Cook Islands dollars
Description: White margin around two sides of the design of each stamp

50c Richmond Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia)

Ornithoptera richmondia, the Richmond birdwing, is a species of birdwing butterfly that is endemic to Australia. It is the second smallest of the birdwing species, the smallest being Ornithoptera meridionalis.

Historically, O. richmondia is recorded from rainforests southwards from Maryborough to the Clarence River in New South Wales. Due to widespread habitat loss throughout its range, its distribution is much more restricted, especially in Queensland. Its present-day range is from Kin Kin and Pomona, North Arm, Yandina, Coolum (although this population is now extinct due to drought), Parklands and Nambour, Diddillibah, Buderim, Eudlo, Palmwoods, the Mooloolah and Diamond Valleys, the entire Blackall Range southeast from Kenilworth to the state forest near the Caloundra Turnoff and west to Peachester and the Stanley River, and the Conondale Range southwards to Mount Mee.

South of Brisbane, the species is recorded along the Nerang River and the Tallebudgera valleys and has an important stronghold in the national parks adjacent to the Queensland-New South Wales border. In New South Wales, the species is widespread in rainforest southwards to the Blackwall Range near Wardell and the Cherry Tree State Forest near Mallangangee. Note that although the species may be abundant at altitude (e.g. the Queensland-New South Wales border ranges national parks), these populations typically die out due to cold winter temperatures and require migration of adults from the lowlands for persistence. Population sizes in these habitats therefore vary from year to year.

A recommended viewing locality for this species is the car park at the base of the summit trail to Mount Warning in Mount Warning National Park, New South Wales. Given good weather during their flight period, sighting this butterfly is almost a certainty.

$1.00 Purple Emperor (Apatura iris)

Apatura iris, the purple emperor, is a Palearctic butterfly of the family Nymphalidae.

Adults have dark brown wings with white bands and spots, and a small orange ring on each of the hindwings. Males have a wingspan of 70–80 millimetres (2.8–3.1 in), and have a purple-blue sheen caused by iridescence that the slightly larger (80–92 mm) females lack. The larvae (caterpillars) are green with white and yellow markings, and have two large “horns” at the anterior end and a smaller one at the posterior.

Females spend most of their lives in the tree canopy, favoring dense and mature oak woodlands, coming down only to lay their eggs on the small willow bushes that grow in clearings and bridleways. Males also spend much of their time in the tree tops, defending their territory from rivals, though they will sometimes descend to drink from puddles or feed. Unlike most butterflies, the purple emperor does not feed from flowers but instead on the honeydew secreted by aphids, sap oozing from oak trees, and on dung, urine and animal carcasses.

Richard South noted that collectors once used animal carcasses “in a somewhat advanced state of decay” to lure the males down to the ground, adding that this practice was “unsportsmanlike”; otherwise one needed a “high net” mounted on a pole about 14 or 15 feet (about 4.5 metres) in length to capture them. Heslop et al. noted that the males’ penchant for roadkill can often cause them to be killed by cars.

$5.00 Sapho Longwing (Heliconius sapho)

Heliconius sapho, the Sapho longwing, is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae. It was described by Dru Drury in 1782. It is found from Mexico southward to Ecuador.

Drury left no notes on the origin of the name, but the spelling (and the naming conventions of the time) suggests it derives from the mythological Queen Sapho, not the historical poet Sappho. Subsequent authors, from John O. Westwood onwards, have unjustifiably “corrected” the spelling.

Upperside: Antennae black. Eyes brown. Thorax and abdomen black. Wings mazarine blue; the anterior ones having a white band crossing them from the middle of the anterior edges to the lower corners; the posterior edged with a white border, intersected by the blue tendons of the wings.

Underside: Palpi grey. Breast and abdomen black, streaked with white. Wings black where they are blue on the upper side, with the same white markings; but next the body are adorned with beautiful red streaks, ending in points resembling rays issuing from it. Margins of the wings entire. Wingspan ​3 1⁄4 inches (82 mm).

$7.00 Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Papilio troilus, the spicebush swallowtail or green-clouded butterfly, is a common black swallowtail butterfly found in North America. It has two subspecies, Papilio troilus troilus and Papilio troilus ilioneus, the latter found mainly in the Florida peninsula. The spicebush swallowtail derives its name from its most common host plant, the spicebush, members of the genus Lindera.

The family to which spicebush swallowtails belong, Papilionidae, or swallowtails, include the largest butterflies in the world. The swallowtails are unique in that even while feeding, they continue to flutter their wings. Unlike other swallowtail butterflies, spicebushes fly low to the ground instead of at great heights.

The spicebush swallowtail is found only in the eastern US and southern Ontario, but occasionally strays as far as the American Midwest, Cuba, Manitoba and Colorado. While still larvae, spicebush swallowtails remain on the leaf of the plant on which they were laid. As adults, the butterflies do not limit their flight geographically and instead are motivated mostly by availability of water and nectar and mates within the species’ range.

This primarily black swallowtail is normally found in deciduous woods or woody swamps, where they can be found flying low and fast through shaded areas. Females tend to stay in open plains, while males are typically found in swamp areas.

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