Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail

Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) Macaon

The swallowtail is a large and brightly coloured butterfly which is easily recognised. The main colour on upper and under wings is yellow with bands and veins of black. On closer inspection there are blue markings and a pair of red spots on the hindwing. The tail streamers are where it gained the common name, although occasionally one or both may have broken off.

Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail egg
Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail egg
Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail caterpillar
Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail caterpillar

The caterpillars of this species can be up to 5cm long. 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.

Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail1
Papilio machaon-Macaon-Swallowtail. These majestic insects often stop to feed on garden flowers allowing for a closer view.
  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Scientific name: Papilio machaon
  • English common name: Swallowtail
  • Spanish common name: Macaon
  • Portuguese common name: Makaon
  • Wing size: 64-100mm
  • Altitude: sea level to 3000m
  • Flight time: February-October in two to three broods
  • Over-wintering: Chrysalis
  • Caterpillar food plant: Many Umbellifers: Wild carrot, Fennel and Rue families.
  • Distribution: Widespread over much of Europe and Asia. North Africa and North America.

Similar species: Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) which has a paler cream base colour and the black markings are reminiscent of zebra stripes.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

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