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Swallowtail butterflies


Swallowtail butterflies: life cycle (caterpillar and chrysalis), how long a swallowtail butterfly lives and differences with the podalirio (or false swallowtail). Natural habitat and stages of development.

Betweenbutterfliespresent in Italy, theswallowtail butterfliesthey are considered by many to be the most beautiful thanks to their particular livery and graceful flight.

Therebutterfly swallowtail(scientific namePapilio machaon) is quite common in the countryside. Very similar to theswallowtailit is the podalirio (species Iphiclides podalirius) which for the clear similarity is calledfalse swallowtailorfalse swallowtail butterfly. If the similarity is clear in the adult stage (therefore in the form of a butterfly), the differences are absolutely relevant in the form ofcaterpillar.

Swallowtail butterfly and false swallowtail

Theswallowtail butterflieshave a livery that recalls the most colorfulexotic butterflies. The yellow-ocher of the wings predominates, enriched by black spots and veins. The hind wings end in a tail where two metallic blue spots and two red points surrounded by blue can be seen.

The size of theswallowtailthey see a wingspan of 7-8 cm.

Theswallowtail butterfliescan be distinguished fromfalse swallowtailobserving the hind wings, both ending in a tail. The hind wings of thefalse swallowtailthey have a large ocellated spot (also in the shape of an eye but of different colors) of blue, black and orange. While we remember that the ocellated spot of theswallowtail butterflyit is predominantly red. The black streaks of the front wings are also different, however an untrained eye can be confusing.

Swallowtail caterpillars

Also thereswallowtail larvait is conspicuous: at first black with small red warts, then it changes with green, with black bands, each black band has 6 red dots.

When iswallowtail caterpillarsthey are frightened or irritated, they protrude from their heads two small orange horns. Although at a descriptive level I have defined them as "orange horns" it is a bifid glandular organ (called osmeterium) which secretes volatile malodorous molecules that have the purpose of warding off enemies.

Theswallowtail caterpillarcomes to onedimensionmaximum of 5 cm.

In the photo, the caterpillar of the swallowtail. The caterpillar of the podalirio (false swallowtail) is less conspicuous and is often confused with the vegetation: it is completely green with yellow-orange lines and red-brown spots. The size of thefalse swallowtail butterflythey are the same as the swallowtail both in the adult form and in the caterpillar.

Swallowtail Chrysalis

Theswallowtail caterpillargrows and feeds on plants when it reaches its maximum size, theswallowtail caterpillarchoose a protected place to becomechrysalis.

The caterpillar of the swallowtail it is unable to build its cocoon and therefore anchors itself to a branch or to any sheltered support, using a thin “silk belt” produced by the caterpillar itself. When the caterpillarassumed this position begins to transform intochrysalis. This phase occurs in the fall and the swallowtail chrysalis he spends the winter in this "position".

When temperatures rise, theswallowtail chrysalisit begins to swell and becomes almost transparent, revealing the colors of the wings of the future butterfly by now almost fully developed.

When thechrysalistears apart, the butterfly can come out and start a new life.

Life cycle: how long does a swallowtail butterfly live?

In its adult stage, therefore in its butterfly form, theswallowtail lives only 2 weeks. For more information, I suggest you read the in-depth study: how long does a butterfly live.

In practice, the swallowtail butterfly flickers from early spring (the period in which the chrysalises mature and break) until late autumn when they lay theeggs. From autumn to winter, you will see its caterpillar that will turn, when ripe, into a chrysalis to start a new butterfly life in the following spring. If all stages are calculated, how long does a swallowtail butterfly live? One year.

Habitat of the butterfly swallowtail

Swallowtail butterflies share their habitat with the podalirio. The swallowtail loves open spaces such as large prairies, flowering meadows, uncultivated land with wild flowers ... however, if you have an organic garden where you do not use pesticides, it is not uncommon to find it among the flowers of your crops or in your garden.

Swallowtail butterflies: how to attract them to the garden

In the garden icaterpillarsthey can be uncomfortable, however, if you have a beautiful garden and are not afraidcaterpillars,you can try to lure the swallowtail into your area.

As a first rule, you should limit or completely avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides and your green space must not lack a source of water. To attract the swallowtail butterfliesyou can start growing plants that attract butterflies with their fragrant nectar. Among the various plants we point out:

  • The buddleia
  • The honeysuckle
  • The lantana
  • Hawthorn
  • The carrot

Carrots are particularly suitable for attract the swallowtail butterfly. Swallowtail butterflies, in fact, love to lay their eggs on the tender leaves of carrot plants.

It can be useful: how to attract butterflies


Video: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies and Zebra Swallowtails. Host Plants and Flower Info (May 2021).