Swallowtail - Papilio machaon



Scientific Name: Papilio machaon.

English Name: Swallowtail.

French Name: Le Machaon or le Grand Porte-queue.

5 Key Characters:
  • a large butterfly (forewings 32 - 40 mm long).
  • yellow wings with black bars and lines.
  • hind wings extend to form a quite long tail.
  • prominent orange spot on the inner bottom corners of the hind wings.
  • black bordered grey and blue bands close to wing outer edges.
Lookalikes: Scarce Swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius, which is white, not yellow, with black 'tiger stripes'.

Habitat: Open places. They often engage in 'hill topping' ie gathering on elevated points, together with the Scarce Swallowtail. A great wanderer, so sometimes encountered in towns, in gardens, where it is attracted to Buddleia and has been recorded occasionally ovipositing on carrot leaves.

Flight Period: March-April-May-June-July-August-September-October.

Caterpillar: Large, green and black striped with orange spots, May - November. Overwinters as a chrysalis.

Host Plant: Umbel family Apiaceae (Fennel Foeniculum vulgare, Giant Fennel Ferula communis, Honewort Trinia glauca, Ptichotys saxifraga, Laserpitium gallicum, Peucedanum oreoselinum, Wild Carrot Daucus carota, Pepper Saxifrage Silaum silaus, Burnet Saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga, Moon Carrot Seseli libanotis, S. montanum, Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris).

Status: Very widely distributed and common but rarely abundant. A species that is easy to see in the Touraine Loire Valley and Brenne.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

All photographs will enlarge in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 on a track on the perimeter of the Parc de Boussay, April. Left & centre nectaring at a Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana. Row 2 Left on a track on the perimeter of the Parc de Boussay, April. Centre & right in our orchard, May, nectaring on Red Clover Trifolium pratense. Row 3 - 4 in our orchard, May, nectaring on Red Clover Trifolium pratense.

































Caterpillar on Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa.

Caterpillar on French Hogs Fennel Peucedanum gallicum.
Caterpillar on Wild Carrot Daucus carota in our garden, autumn.
A caterpillar in our orchard, September.






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