Papilio machaon

Photo Credits: Paolo Mazzei –

Distribution:Is a butterfly of the family Papilionidae, predominantly tropical family, of which only 9 species fly in Italy. And widespread throughout temperate Europe, North Africa, Turkey, Asia , goes so far in Japan. The swallowtail prefers dry meadows, flowery land, the steep, overgrown roads, edges of woods, meadows and flowering hills, from the plains up to 1800 m.

Description: Papilio machaon has a striking coloration of black on top of a yellow base color. There are blue and red spots on the hind wings. A mutation or variation on swallowtails’ natural color is the occasional butterfly that displays melanism, a black coloration on the wings, rather than yellow. There are fairly large butterflies compared to most others. Old World swallowtails have two overlapping wings, which create a wing span anywhere from 5.5 – 8 cm in length. Some females even have a fore-wing span that reaches beyond 8.8 cm.

Biology: It is one of the most showy butterfly of our fauna and therefore fairly well known by the general public, because people meet it flying on our flowerbeds. It has two or three annual generations, so it can be seen from March to September, generally takes flight from mid-April. At that moment, with the arrival of the first heat, gets rid of the cocoon that protected him during the wintering, the chrysalis stage, and turns into a butterfly. The caterpillar eat umbelliferae including fennel, carrot and parsley . Stylish and agile in flight, the male usually defends its territory.