Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)
The Scarce Swallowtail is a species of very large distinctive butterflies found in four different subspecies. However, one of these (Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii) is debatably considered as a separate species (Iphiclides feisthamelii).
- Family: Papilionidae
- Genus: Iphiclides
- Common names: Sail Swallowtail, Pear-tree Swallowtail
- Scientific Name: Iphiclides podalirius
Description and Identification
The larvae are born dark, but later turn green with each of the segments portioned by thin black lines, with each of the black lines paralleled with lines of tiny black triangles bordered by yellow.
The chrysalises are found in two colors, brown and green. This is for the purpose of camouflage – to hide themselves among the brown tree branches and green leaves. The summer pupae are always green, and the winter ones are brown that eventually enter the phase of hibernation before fluttering out as butterflies.
Sexual Dimorphism: Visually indistinct
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the scarce swallowtails display several long and black tiger stripes in knife-like patterns on a creamy white base. The borders of the hind wings are lined with several inverted crescent moon-like blue markings including the long tail-like protrusion at the end of the two wings. There are also two orange-yellow spots almost in the middle of the secondary wings. When the wings are closed, they display an identical pattern scheme in both the male and the female.
Average wingspan: Males: 60–80 mm (2.4–3.1 in); Females: 62–90 mm (2.4–3.5 in)
Flight pattern: Slow and floating
|Distribution||Widely spread across Europe except the northern part, Turkey, Near East, extending to the Middle East across Kazakhstan to the Altai, SW Siberia and western part of China|
|Habitat||Scrublands, hedgerows, open orchards, isolated bushes, as well as in humanmade gardens, towns and the countryside|
|Lifespan of adults||2-3 weeks|
|Host plants||Most favorite is the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- The Scarce Swallowtail butterfly can soar in high altitudes even at alpine levels as high as 2000 m.
- The word ‘scarce’ does not mean that this butterfly is rare, but instead, quite common in general. The attribute is actually directed to the UK migrants of the species whose population has gone down dramatically.