Zerynthia polyxena

Southern Festoon


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
Photo: polyxena27.jpg

Var, France, April 2018

Photo: polyxena6.jpg

Kozani, Greece, May 2004

Yellow female form ochracea

Field notes and information

This group of butterflies is very distinctive with gaudy dazzle camouflage.

Identification & Similar species: The dazzle markings are highly distinctive. There is only one other butterfly with similar extreme markings in Europe - the Spanish Festoon, Z. rumina. The ranges of the two species overlap in southeast France.

Distribution & Flight: SE France, Italy and eastwards to Slovakia and Greece covering all the Balkans. It is usually in some numbers when found. It is an early spring butterfly, found in April and May.

Habitat & Behaviour: In the south and at lower altitudes, hot dry places. In mountains and further from the coast, grassy herb rich meadows. I've found it once at around 1500m in Greece, but mostly it is below around 1000m. Larvae feed on Aristolochiae (birthworts).

Variation: cassandra: subspecies from peninsula Italy and Sicily, this is occasionally treated as a separate species based on differences in male genetalia. It appears to be darker than the nominal form.ochracea:form: females with a rich mustard yellow ground colour

Photo: polyxena8.jpg

Var, France, April 2004

Photo: polyxena19.jpgPhoto: polyxena20.jpg

SE Serbia, June 2012

Photo: polyxena21.jpg

Var, France, May 2012

Photo: polyxena4.jpg

Kozani, Greece, May 2004

Photo: polyxena26.jpg

Var, France, April 2018

Photo: polyxena24.jpgPhoto: polyxena25.jpg

Var, France, April 2018

Photo: polyxena22.jpgPhoto: polyxena23.jpg

SE Serbia, June 2012

Larval food plant.

Photo: polyxena17.jpg

Var, France, April 2007

Photo: polyxena7.jpg

Var, France, April 2004

Photo: polyxena2.jpg

Provence, France, April 2004, (f)

Photo: polyxena5.jpg

Kozani, Greece, May 2004, (f)

The orange yellow form ochracea is only found in the female.

Photo: polyxena18.jpg

Var, France, April 2007

Photo: polyxena3.jpg

Kozani, Greece, May 2004

Photo: polyxena10.jpgPhoto: polyxena11.jpgPhoto: polyxena9.jpg

Var, France, April 2006

Photo: polyxena1.jpg

Var, France, April 2004