Old World swallowtail

Papilio machaon

''Papilio machaon'', the Old World swallowtail, is a butterfly of the family Papilionidae. The butterfly is also known as the common yellow swallowtail or simply the swallowtail . It is the type species of the genus ''Papilio''.
Heart  Caterpillar,Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon

Appearance

The imago typically has yellow wings with black vein markings, and a wingspan of 65–86 millimetres . The hindwings of both sexes have a pair of protruding tails which give the butterfly its common name from the resemblance to the birds of the same name. Just below each tail is one red and six blue eye spots.

In the caterpillar stage, ''P. machaon'' has a length of 45 millimetres . When young, the caterpillar resembles a bird dropping, giving it camouflage. The caterpillar also protects itself using a large orange fork which protrudes behind its head.

It can be distinguished from ''Papilio hospiton'', which occurs sympatrically with it on Corsica and Sardinia, by the longer "tails" on the hindwings. It can be told apart from the Algerian species ''Papilio saharae'' only by counting the segments on the antennae.
Portrait of a butterfly Papilio machaon Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon,biodiversity,insecta,insects,lepidoptera,papilionidae,rhopalocera,spring

Naming

Named for Machaon a figure in Greek mythology. He was a son of Asclepius.There are 41 recognized subspecies, that include:


⤷  ''P. m. aliaska'' Scudder, 1869
⤷  ''P. m. annae'' Gistel, 1857
⤷  ''P. m. archias'' Fruhstorfer, 1907
⤷  ''P. m. asiaticus'' Ménétriés, 1855
⤷  ''P. m. baijangensis'' Huang & Murayama, 1992
⤷  ''P. m. bairdii'' Edwards, 1866
⤷  ''P. m. birmanicus'' Rothschild, 1908
⤷  ''P. m. britannicus''
⤷  ''P. m. brucei'' Edwards, 1893
⤷  ''P. m. centralis'' Staudinger, 1886
⤷  ''P. m. chinensis'' Verity, 1905
⤷  ''P. m. gorganus'' Fruhstorfer, 1922
⤷  ''P. m. hippocrates'' C. & R. Felder, 1864
⤷  ''P. m. hudsonianus'' Clark, 1932
⤷  ''P. m. kamtschadalus'' Alphéraky, 1897
⤷  ''P. m. kiyonobu'' Morita, 1997
⤷  ''P. m. kunkalaschani'' Eller, 1939
⤷  ''P. m. ladakensis'' Moore, 1884
⤷  ''P. m. lapponica'' Verity, 1911
⤷  ''P. m. machaon''
⤷  ''P. m. mauretanica'' Verity, 1905
⤷  ''P. m. maxima'' gen.aest. angulata Verity, 1911
⤷  ''P. m. melitensis'' Eller, 1936
⤷  ''P. m. montanus'' Alphéraky, 1897
⤷  ''P. m. muetingi'' Seyer, 1976
⤷  ''P. m. neochinensis'' Sheljuzhko, 1913
⤷  ''P. m. oregonius'' Edwards, 1876
⤷  ''P. m. oreinus'' Sheljuzhko, 1919
⤷  ''P. m. orientis'' Verity, 1911
⤷  ''P. m. pikei'' Sperling, 1987
⤷  ''P. m. sachalinensis'' Matsumura, 1911
⤷  ''P. m. schapiroi'' Seyer, 1976
⤷  ''P. m. septentrionalis'' Verity, 1911
⤷  ''P. m. sikkimensis'' Moore, 1884
⤷  ''P. m. suroia'' Tytler, 1939
⤷  ''P. m. sylvina'' Hemming, 1933
⤷  ''P. m. syriacus'' Verity, 1908
⤷  ''P. m. taliensis'' Eller, 1939
⤷  ''P. m. ussuriensis'' Sheljuzhko, 1910
⤷  ''P. m. verityi'' Fruhstorfer, 1907
⤷  ''P. m. weidenhofferi'' Seyer, 1976


''Papilio machaon gorganus'' is strongly migratory in Europe and may be found in almost all habitats. In the UK, ''P. m. britannicus'' is an endemic subspecies, but occasionally individuals of the continental subspecies ''P. m. gorganus'' breed temporarily on the south coast. Subspecies ''P. m. britannicus'' differs from the continental subspecies in being more heavily marked in black. The Maltese Islands are home to another endemic subspecies, ''P. m. melitensis''.
Papilio machaon I love the colors on this caterpillar, so bright and complementary with each other.  Caterpillar,Europe,Fall,Geotagged,Macro,Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon,Portugal,butterfly caterpillar

Distribution

This butterfly is present throughout the entire Palearctic region, ranging from Russia to China and Japan, , and across into Alaska, Canada, and the United States, and thus, is not restricted to the Old World, despite the common name. In Asia, it is reported as far south as Saudi Arabia, Oman, the high mountains of Yemen, Lebanon, Iran and Israel. In southern Asia, it occurs in Pakistan and Kashmir, northern India , Nepal, Bhutan, and northern Myanmar.

This butterfly is widespread in Europe. In the United Kingdom, it is limited to a few areas in the Norfolk Broads of East Anglia. It is the UK's largest resident butterfly. The monarch is slightly larger, but is only a rare vagrant.

As ''P. machaon'' is widespread throughout Eurasia and often common, it is not threatened as a species. It is listed as "vulnerable" in the South Korean and Austrian Red Data Books, and in the Red Data Book of the former Soviet Union. In Armenia the species demonstrates stable population trend and is assessed as Least Concern.

In some countries, ''P. machaon'' and its subspecies are protected by law. ''Papilio machaon machaon'' is protected by law in six provinces of Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. The species is protected in the United Kingdom, and subspecies ''verityi'' is protected in India.
Yellow swallowtail Caterpillar on Parsley  Geotagged,Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon,Summer,United States

Status

This butterfly is present throughout the entire Palearctic region, ranging from Russia to China and Japan, , and across into Alaska, Canada, and the United States, and thus, is not restricted to the Old World, despite the common name. In Asia, it is reported as far south as Saudi Arabia, Oman, the high mountains of Yemen, Lebanon, Iran and Israel. In southern Asia, it occurs in Pakistan and Kashmir, northern India , Nepal, Bhutan, and northern Myanmar.

This butterfly is widespread in Europe. In the United Kingdom, it is limited to a few areas in the Norfolk Broads of East Anglia. It is the UK's largest resident butterfly. The monarch is slightly larger, but is only a rare vagrant.

As ''P. machaon'' is widespread throughout Eurasia and often common, it is not threatened as a species. It is listed as "vulnerable" in the South Korean and Austrian Red Data Books, and in the Red Data Book of the former Soviet Union. In Armenia the species demonstrates stable population trend and is assessed as Least Concern.

In some countries, ''P. machaon'' and its subspecies are protected by law. ''Papilio machaon machaon'' is protected by law in six provinces of Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. The species is protected in the United Kingdom, and subspecies ''verityi'' is protected in India.
Yellow Swallowtail Caterpillar head detail Yellow Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio Machaon) feeding on Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Side view: https://www.jungledragon.com/image/83609/yellow_swallowtail_caterpillar_on_fennel.html Geotagged,Netherlands,Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon,Summer

Behavior

There are usually two to three broods in a year, but in northern areas, the species may be univoltine. In some places such as the UK, some will pupate and emerge in the same year and others will overwinter as pupae before emerging the following year, a situation known as being partially bivoltine.

The caterpillar spends the first part of its life with the appearance of a bird dropping, an effective defense against predators. As the caterpillar grows larger, it becomes green with black and orange markings. It has a defense against predators in the form of an ''osmeterium'', which consists of retractable, fleshy projections behind its head that can release a foul smell if disturbed, which deters insects, but not birds.
Butterfly  Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon

Habitat

The butterfly has a strong and fast flight, but frequently pauses to hover over flowering herbs and sip nectar. It frequents alpine meadows and hillsides, and males are fond of 'hilltopping', congregating near summits to compete for passing females. At lower elevations, it can be seen visiting gardens.



Unlike other swallowtails which specialise on Rutaceae, this species mostly feeds on plants of family Umbelliferae, females laying eggs singly. Milk parsley is normally the only food plant used by the caterpillars of the British subspecies. The food plants of the swallowtail in Europe, Asia, and North America are more varied than in the UK. It uses a wide variety of umbellifers including wild carrot , wild angelica , fennel , and hogweeds . In the Maltese Islands, the caterpillar feeds on plants such as rue in addition to Umbelliferae such as fennel.

In Kashmir, the common yellow swallowtail, as ''Papilio machaon'' is called there, inhabits alpine meadows in the Himalayas occurring from 2,000 feet in Kashmir valley to 16,000 ft in the Garhwal Himalayas. In India, in Himachal Pradesh, it is found over 4,000 ft only and in Sikkim over 8,000 ft only.

At lower elevations, these butterflies fly from March to September; at higher elevations, they are limited by the short summer seasons.

The British subspecies ''P. m. brittanicus'' is less mobile than its European continental counterpart and stays within, or close by, its fenland habitat.
papilio_machaon_(3)  Old World swallowtail,Papilio machaon

Reproduction

Old World swallowtails can easily be bred in captivity. Butterflies can be lured to lay eggs in a backyard garden by keeping plenty of caterpillar food plants in it. Common rue plants are highly appropriate for this.


Once eggs or young caterpillars have been collected, they can be kept in a pot with holes on its top to allow air circulation. More than one caterpillar may be kept in a single pot since they do not attack each other . They can be fed any of their food plants. Fennel is one of the easiest to find in the wild. Care must be taken with fennel as well as dill, though, because they will not eat hard, woody stems; they need to be fed the tender leaves. They can also be fed rue or milk parsley. Feeding them with unsuitable plants will lead to death from starvation.

Caterpillars are very fast eaters; they will spend their time eating or resting before they resume their eating again. Once a sufficient size has been attained, they will attach themselves to any available structure with their silky threads. They will then stay still until they become pupae. This will take about a day.

Once in the pupa stage, they can be very carefully removed from the pot and placed in a warm location. The time the butterfly takes to form and come out depends on the temperature. If kept in warm summer temperatures, it will take about one or two weeks to form. On the other hand, if the temperature is lower, it might take as long as several months until it feels the weather is warm enough.

Pupae should not be kept on an impermeable surface, since when they eclose a bit of liquid will be released, this means the butterfly would stay wet and might not be able to fly. Absorbing paper such as the one used in kitchens is advisable.

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