ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Swallowtail Butterfly is rare in the UK and only found in Norfolk but is common in continental Europe

Updated on February 20, 2016

Newly emerged Swallowtail Butterfly

Source

Swallowtail butterflies in Britain

The Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) is one of the rarest and largest butterflies found in the UK, and in fact can only be seen flying in the fenlands in the Norfolk Broads in the east of England. This is because its caterpillar only feeds on Milk Parsley (Peucidanum palustre) in Britain. The Swallowtail has decreased in numbers due to habitat destruction and loss of its food-plant. Efforts have been made to reverse this situation and Swallowtails still breed and fly in the Norfolk Broads.

A Swallowtail resting on a tree

Source

European Swallowtails

However, the Swallowtail is far more widely distributed in Europe and extends throughout the Northern Hemisphere through Asia as far as Japan. It is also found in North Africa and in North America. In these countries the Swallowtail caterpillar will accept a far more varied selection of food-plants and will eat various species in the Apiaceae or Parsley family, such as Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and Rue (Ruta graveolens) in the Rutaceae.

Freshly emerged Swallowtail drying its wings

Source

The Swallowtail is very pretty

The Swallowtail has yellow wings veined with black and with projections on its rear wings that give it its name. It also has a row of blue markings on the hind wings and a red spot on each. The Swallowtail is a very pretty butterfly indeed and is very hard to mistake for any other in the UK.

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are black and marked with white when young. This gives them the appearance of bird-droppings. As they grow bigger though they take on a much more attractive appearance with black and orange stripes on a green body. There is a forked organ known as an osmeterium that can be protruded from the caterpillar’s head. It is a form of defence because it gives off an unpleasant odour. The caterpillar will display this organ if it is disturbed.

The chrysalis of the Swallowtail is either brown or green and is held attached to a plant stem by a silken girdle. In the UK the butterfly overwinters in the chrysalis stage and emerges in May but on the continent in warmer countries the butterfly is double brooded. British Swallowtail butterflies can be seen on the wing from May to July.

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on Rue

Source

Swallowtail butterfly poll

Have you ever seen a Swallowtail butterfly?

See results

Distribution of the Swallowtail butterfly

Swallowtails are often seen in gardens in Spain, Portugal and other European countries where they may lay their eggs on plants such as Rue.

The British Swallowtail is a subspecies known as P. machaon ssp. britannicus. The continental variety P. machaon ssp. gorganus has been reported in the south of England and it is thought that the species has migrated from France or other parts of Europe. Eggs laid by females of these butterflies are deposited on plants such as the Wild Carrot (Daucus carota).

Throughout the world there are very many other species in the Papilionidae or Swallowtail family.

Norfolk Broads

© 2014 Steve Andrews

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Green Bard profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      3 years ago from Tenerife

      Thanks for commenting on my hub! I am glad to hear you have swallowtails where you are too.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      Here in San Diego California our garden is often blessed with Swallowtail butterflies, particularly of the Anise species. I have also come across the caterpillars with this famous "stinkhorn" you have referred to. Great hub!

    • Green Bard profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      3 years ago from Tenerife

      I had not seen one either until I moved to Portugal.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 

      3 years ago from Cardiff

      It's beautiful! And can't say I have ever seen one over here!!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)