The Southern Scarce Swallowtail is a large butterfly that can look either white or pale yellow with prominent vertical black stripes and long tail streamers, from where it gained the common name. When feeding on a flower the blue crescents and red markings on the hindwings are visible. The under wing pattern is a little paler.
Once classed as Iphiclides podalirius podalirius (Central and Southern Europe), The Southern Scarce swallowtail – Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii (North Africa, Iberia and southwest France) is now recognised as a subspecies due to their geographic location and differences in size and coloration.
The caterpillars can be up to 4.5cm long. They are green with fine yellow lines and orange spots. The shape is deeper in the first third and tapers off sharply. They have a glandular defense system against predation. On their necks is hidden a fork of brightly coloured retractable flesh, when raised this emits a foul smell to deter predators.
- Family: Papilionidae
- Scientific name: Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii
- English common name: Southern Scarce swallowtail
- Spanish common name: Chupaleches
- Wing size: 64-90mm
- Altitude: Sea level to 1600m
- Flight time: March-October in two to three broods depending on the seasons
- Over-wintering: Chrysalis
- Caterpillar food plant: Prunus species e.g. Blackthorn, Sloe, Almond, Cherry and Hawthorn.
- Distribution: Most parts of Europe eastwards to India and China.
Similar species: Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), which has a stronger yellow base colour and has more solid black on “shoulders” and body.
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