Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
- Family: Papilionidae
- Genus: Papilio
- Common names: Common yellow swallowtail, swallowtail
- Scientific Name: Papilio machaon
The Old World Swallowtail is a species of very brightly-colored, medium-sized butterflies that are found in the entire Palearctic region in 37 recognized subspecies.
This member of the swallowtail butterfly family has not been noted as of concern; however, it is relatively rare or uncommon.
Description and Identification
The mature larva has a soft green body, with each segment divided by black lines. The segments also have alternate dots of black and yellow, rendering them a very bright coloration.
The chrysalis of this swallowtail butterfly is light brown and dark gray with whitish marks and spots throughout the body, enough to camouflage in the twigs and branches in the wild.
Sexual Dimorphism: Not present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of the hindwings has reddish-orange eyespot close to the tail with black along the lower border that touches the inner edge of the pair of hindwings, which also has circular blue marks along the border. The forewings primarily have a white base with vein-like markings in dark gray. When the wings are closed, it is primarily white with the impression of the vein-like marks similar to the dorsal side. The ventral side also bears the two orange marks at the lower tips of the hindwings.
Average wingspan: 2½ – 3 inches (6.5 – 7.5 cm)
Flight pattern: Moderate
White to reddish white, laid singly on host plant
|Distribution||From Russia to China, Japan, Taiwan, parts of India (including the Himalayas), and across Alaska, Canada, and the United States|
|Habitat||Sunny open lands, forest edges, gardens|
|Lifespan of adults||Varies between subspecies|
|Host plants||Milk parsley (or, marsh hog’s fennel) is normally the only food plant|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- The specific name machaon comes from the Greek character Machaon, a son of Asclepius, in the works of poet Homer.
- Though the term ‘Swallowtail’ is a common name applied to all members of the family, this species was the first to get the name.
- The Old World Swallowtail is the type species of the entire genus Papilio.
- It is the largest resident butterfly of UK.