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By Caitlin Puffenberger, PR & Marketing Intern, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Great Yellow Mormon; Papilio lowii

Great yellow Mormon; Papilio lowii female (top), male (bottom)

 

Identifying butterflies can be a challenge when so many look similar, but the differences can make it tricky, too. Some butterflies are dimorphic, which means the male and female look very different. Take this pair of great yellow Mormons (Papilio lowii) – they look nothing alike! The female (top) has a yellow and black body and her wings carry an intricate design in yellow, black, red and white. The male (bottom) is mostly black with some striping and iridescent coloring on his hindwings.

As if that’s not confusing enough, just this month, a dual-sex great Mormon butterfly hatched at the Natural History Museum in London. It’s half male and half female, meaning it has one wing with each pattern!

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