Swallowtails

The Swallowtails (Papilionidae) are a family of large colourful butterflies that are recognizable to most people. The entire family consists of about 550 species worldwide, but only 3 are known in the Netherlands. This is because most species can be found more in a tropical environment. Their name refers to the short tail that is situated on the edge of the rear wing. The function of this tail is unknown, but genetic studies in some species have shown that it is a labile trait of a specific gene. All swallowtails have three pairs of walking legs, and adults of all species visit flowers for nectar.

Subfamily: Papilioninae – Tribe: Graphiini

Swallowtail – 2019 (BH)

To discover the Swallowtail (Papilion machaon) in the Netherlands, you should not be in the North. I spotted my first specimen in Trebinje (Bosnia and Herzegovina) where I was on holiday with my daughter. We were both very hyper to see such a beautiful butterfly for the first time. It took quite a long time before this beautiful swallowtail sat down to be photographed. And when he sits down, it is quite special that he sits exactly with my daughter on her smartphone, which she had ready to take a photo. The wingspan of the Swallowtail is 80-90mm and has wings with yellow ground colour. On the top of the front and rear wings, you can see a wide blue band along the back edge that is outlined in black. At the rear edge of the rear wing is a tail and you see a red spot at the inner edge corner. The body is yellow at the bottom and black at the top. The flight period is in two generations from late April to September. Host plant: Wild Carrot and Wild Angelica. Dutch name: Koninginnepage. Frisian name: Keningjinnepaazje.

 

Subfamily: Papilioninae – Tribe: Papilionini

Scarce Swallowtail – 2019 (BH)

In the Netherlands, the Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) is hardly seen. He only appears as a vagrant. During my holidays in Montenegro, where I took a day trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina with my daughter, we came across this swallowtail at a monastery. Unfortunately, it was a very damaged copy. The tails, which are normally on the trailing edge of the rear wing, were completely gone. The base colour of the wings is white to cream-coloured. On the front wing, there are a number of wedge-shaped black stripes that tapers from the front edge of the wing to the middle. On the rear wing at the trailing edge, there are a number of blue moon spots that are outlined in black. Those were already gone with the specimen we have seen. The wingspan is 60-90mm and the flight period is from May to September up to three generations. Host plant: Blackthorn. Dutch name: Koningspage. Frisian name: Keningspaazje.