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Papilio machaon


Field Notes



Vaud, Switzerland, July 2010


Var, France, July 2010


Var, France, July 2009


Valais, Switzerland, September 2009


Andalucia, Spain, April 2009


Crete, Greece, June 2004


Valais, Switzerland, June 2006


Papilio machaon

Distribution: All Europe and N Africa except the UK where it is restricted to a very small part of E England in Norfolk Broads.

Identification: Its large size and bright yellow colour mean it is can only be confused with the other Swallowtails. Follow this link for the key to the Papilio. The present species is by far the most widespread and usually most common.

Flight time: Number of broods varies with location. Single brooded in the UK (May, June), triple brooded in the south (from as early as February until autumn).

Habitat: Diverse although tends to be associated with damper places further north in its range. The larvae use many species of the Umbelliferae (Carrots) and Rutaceae (Rues).

Behaviour: Range widely, often found singly well away from likely breeding grounds (e.g. in the mountains or extremely dry hot barren places). Frequently hill-top, the practice of males congregating at the top of a hill where they circle each other and sail on the updrafts.

The specimens from Norfolk, UK have narrower forewings. Speculation is that this prevents individuals migrating away from the restricted breeding grounds and being lost to the colonies. In the rest of Europe they are wide ranging, often observed travelling purposefully through a habitat or area. Often they are seen in towns and cities presumably passing through during dispersal.


Peter Rowlings

Crete, Greece, June 2004

Disappointing quality and pink hue from the slide scanner - the original slide is superb.


Sicily, May 2000

Very heavily marked individual


Cyprus, April 2002


Provence, France, Apr 2003


Valais, Switzerland, September 2003

Larva on foodplant.