Parides ascanius

This swallowtail butterfly is critically endangered in coastal “restinga” habitats [subcoastal swamps and thickets] of southeastern Brazil that have been largely destroyed as the city of Rio de Janeiro has expanded. The historical range of this species has probably always been limited to coastal Rio de Janeiro State. There is a single specimen labeled “Brazil” that was probably collected by Peale near Rio de Janeiro during the first phase of the Wilkes Expedition in 1838, and it is among the Peale Collection specimens that have been integrated into the Academy’s main Lepidoptera collection. This species was probably relatively common in coastal areas during Peale's visit to Brazil, and many specimens found their way to European museums during the heyday of natural history exploration of South America in the 19th Century. This species was the first invertebrate officially listed on Brazil's federal endangered species list, and now only a few populations survive in a few protected reserves in coastal Rio de Janeiro State.