Scarce Swallowtail - Iphiclides podalirius

Scientific Name: Iphiclides podalirius (Papilionidae).

English Name: Scarce Swallowtail (Swallowtail family). Note that the English name reflects the species status in Britain, not in France.

French Name: Le Flambé (='the Singed').

5 Key Characters:
  • a large butterfly (65 - 80 mm from wing tip to wing tip).
  • creamy white wings with black bands crossing from leading edge down.
  • hind wings elongated to form 'tails'.
  • lazy gliding flight.
  • often seen hanging about the most elevated part of a landscape ('hill-topping').

Lookalikes: Swallowtail Papilio machaon, which has yellow wings with a different black pattern.

Habitat: Open or semi-open areas, with a preference for sun drenched grassland dotted with bushes. Also gardens and orchards, especially if they are run organically.

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

Caterpillar: Thick and green or yellow with brighter yellow stripes and dark or reddish spots. Can be seen from May to October. Eats Blackthorn Prunus spinosa and Saint Lucia Cherry P. mahaleb, sometimes Hawthorn Crataegus mongyna, Amelanch Amelanchier ovalis or other wild or cultivated Plum Prunus, Pear Pyrus or Apple Malus spp.

Status: Common and widespread. This is a species that is easy to see in the Touraine Loire Valley and Brenne.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
Nectaring on lavender.

Nectaring on knapweed.
Nectaring on knapweed.

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