Papilio demoleus, a potential citrus pest newly found in the Caribbean
Papilio demoleus (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) has been reported for the first time in the Dominican Republic in 2004, and in early 2006 it was reported in Puerto Rico. As P. demoleus is a strong flyer, it is expected that it will reach Florida (US) in the short term and might continue to spread in the Americas. The adult is a beautiful butterfly with a wingspan of 9-10 cm (many pictures can be viewed on the Internet). P. demoleus larvae feed on the foliage of citrus trees. P. demoleus can be a serious pest of young citrus trees and cause damage in nurseries, but it is usually considered as a minor pest of mature trees. P. demoleus occurs in Asia and Australia where six subspecies are recognized across its whole range (demoleus, libanius, malayanus, novoguineensis, sthenelus, and stenelinus). In Africa and Madagascar, a morphologically similar species occurs (Papilio demodocus). According to the literature the current distribution of P. demoleus is the following:
EPPO region: Absent.
Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia (Java, Sumatra), Iraq, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.
Oceania: Australia, Papua New Guinea.
It is suspected that P. demoleus has been introduced accidentally into the Dominican Republic (natural spread appears very unlikely). Early stages may have been introduced from Asia on citrus consignments or material associated with citrus imports. It is also envisaged that butterflies might have been deliberately introduced for hobby interests or even for release at celebrations such as weddings.
CABI (1979) Distribution Maps of Pests. Papilio demoleus no. 396. Wallingford, UK.
Eastwood R, Boyce SL, Farrell BD (2006) The provenance of Old World swallowtail butterflies, Papilio demoleus (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae), recently discovered in the New World. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 99(1), 164-168.
Heppner JB (2006) Pest Alert. Lime swallowtail in the Caribbean and possible impacts for Florida citrus. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Retrieved 2006-12-12 from: http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/enpp/ento/limeswallowtail.html
Hill SD (1983) Agricultural insect pests of the tropics and their control. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, UK, 746 pp.