Ecology and conservation biology of the Homerus Swallowtail in Jamaica (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae).


  • T. C. Emmel
  • E. Garraway


Agehana, butterfly fanning, Hernandiaceae, immature stages, Lauraceae, life history, Ornithoptera, Papilio homerus, population ecology, West Indies


The Homerus Swallowtail, Papilio homerus Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae), once inhabited seven of the thirteen parishes on the island of Jamaica. Today, it is found only in two isolated and diminishing strongholds: an eastern population in the parishes of St. Thomas and Portland, and the western population in the rugged Cockpit Country of Trelawny and St. Elizabeth. The ecology of the remaining populations is described, including habitat characteristics, seasonally, altitudinal range, host plants, behavior and other associated biological information. A summary of the stages of life history is illustrated by color photographs. The principal threats to the continued existence of the species are (1) destruction of the virgin wet rain forest habitat, and (2) commercial collecting in the remaining small populations. The establishment of patrolled nature reserves or a national park is recommended for the remaining habitat areas, as well as a possible butterfly farming program to lessen pressures on small wild populations.