The mimic butterfly

Find out about the butterfly that has baffled predators and scientists for more than a century in this special display case.

The most interesting butterfly in the world?
Butterfly display case
Dinosaur Way, Blue Zone

Papilio dardanus

There are more than 3,500 Papilio dardanus specimens in our collection.

Mistress of mimicry

The female African mocker swallowtail, Papilio dardanus, uses mimicry to get ahead in the evolutionary race. By copying poisonous butterfly species, it is able to protect itself from predators.

For years, the butterfly has baffled scientists with its ability to mimic as many as 14 different wing patterns. Now a team working in the Museum's Darwin Centre has managed to pinpoint the gene responsible.

Discover the full story in our new special display.

See for yourself

Experience hundreds of butterflies and moths flying around you, and learn about one of nature’s most fascinating life cycles in the Sensational Butterflies exhibition on the Museum’s East lawn.

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