N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Papilio hospiton Gené, 1839

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Papilio hospiton Gené, 1839: 83-84, pl. 2, fig. 20, 21.
Type locality: Italy, Sardinia, Tortoli and Gavoi
Type: Syntypes: 1 , Sardegna, Tortoli, 20.5., leg Gené; 1 , Sardegna, Barbargia Ollolai, near Gavoi, June, leg. Gené, in coll. ?

Synonyms, misspellings, wrong determinations, etc.:
Papilio hospiton ab. machaonides Verity, 1906. Type locality: Corse. Primary homonym of Papilio machaonides Esper, 1796 and unavailable infrasubspecific name.

Taxonomic note: Erroneously, Achille Guenée, a French entomologist, is cited mostly as author of Papilio hospiton. In fact, the species has been described by the Italian zoologist Giuseppe Gené in 1839 (Rodeland 2014).

Corsican Swallowtail
Le Machaon Corse
Korsischer Schwalbenschwanz


: without data underside: in coll. NHM, London    
Picture from: wikimedia commons: Sarefo (GNU Free Documentation license), modified
Detailed view
Picture from: NHM, London (creative commons: BY-NC-ND, www.globis.insects-online.de)
Detailed view

Examined: Pictures of upper- and underside. Wing expanse: app. 60 – 80 mm. Head and thorax black with a yellowish line on each side, extending to the base of the wing; eyes brown, antennae black, app. 2/5 of forewing length; upperside of wings yellow, forewing with a broad black postdiscal band, weakly suffused with yellow; the submarginal area black too, interrupted by a line of yellow dots between the veins; basal third of wing black, with scattered yellow scales; veins broadly black, three big spots on the anterior margin of the wing also black; hindwings shortly, but distinctly tailed, the black postdiscal band with blue dots between the veins; in the anal angle of the wing a red and blue, semilunar dot, delicately bordered with black; veins delicately black too, the curved inner margin black with yellow hairs; underside of wings distinctly paler than the upper side, the black postdiscal band in the forewing strongly suffused with pale yellow, except near the posterior margin, the submarginal area mostly pale yellow, like the basal third of the wing; black postdiscal band of hindwing also strongly suffused with pale yellow, inwards with triangular red spots between M1 and Cu1; inner margin of hindwing pale yellow too; underside of subanal area of hindwing with a deep groove; abdomen black, yellow laterally and beneath.


The species is restricted to Corse and Sardinia, where it flies mostly between 500 and 1200 m a.s.l. (Higgins & Riley 1978, Tolman & Lewington 1998). Records for Austria or Nigeria (GBIF 2014) are based on misidentifications.


Sardegna, Capoterra, 2008.04.06      
Picture from: www.flickr.com: © giusmelix (http://www.giuseppemelis.com)
Detailed view

The species inhabits open grasland on mountain slopes and in valleys, often on places, which are interspersed with shrubs and rocks. Like the allied species, the males show "hilltopping. This means, that they visit the summits of hills and mountains. The butterflies can be found in 1 - 2 generations, mostly between mid May and late July. Nevertheless, records are also known from mid March till mid August. A well known parasite of the larvae is Trogus violaceus (Tolman & Lewinton 1998).

Stages in development:

young larva fullfed larva Larva (from plate II, fig. 21)  
Picture from: www.flickr.com: juergen.mangelsdorf (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Detailed view
Picture from: www.flickr.com: juergen.mangelsdorf (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Detailed view
Picture from: Gené 1839
Detailed view

Egg. Normally, the eggs are laid near the tips of the leaf, especially on plants in shady places or on the lower leaves in the shadow.

Larva. Fullfed larva greenish white, dorsally and laterally with irregular, mostly longitudinally oriented black dots, which are partly mixed orange; lateral stripes broad, orange-yellow, mixed with black longitudinal lines; black stigma encircled first yellowish, outwards black; above the legs, a white longitudinal stripe; head greenish white with black dots. Foodplant of the larva is primarily Ferula communis, on Corse also Ruta corsaria and Peucedanum paniculatum.

Pupa. The pupa overwinters (Tolman & Lewington 1998).


-genitalia, uncus (dorsoventral) and valve: Corse      
Picture from: © Higgins 1975, modified
Detailed view

genitalia (Higgins 1975): "Like P. machaon but supra-uncus [tegumen] smaller, apex short; valve wide, posterior margin almost straight, harpe short with four or five small teeth; penis bowed."


P. hospiton : without data P. saharae : Morocco P. machaon machaon : Salzburg, Flachgau, Thalgau, Thalgauegg, 1980.08.21, coll. Michael Kurz  
Picture from: wikimedia commons: Sarefo (GNU Free Documentation license), modified
Detailed view
Picture from: wikimedia commons: Notafly (creative commons), modified
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

Papilio hospiton Gené, 1839 is distinguished from the allied species most easily by the form of the eyelike spot at the anal angle of the hindwing, which is not round, but crescent-shaped. Furthermore, it bears relativley short tails on the hindwings and usually the black drawings are more extended, especially along the veins.

Crossing experiments suggest, that Papilio saharae Oberthür, 1879 is closly allied to Papilio hospiton Gené, 1839, since hybrids are very fertile and give also a F2-generation. Hybrids with Papilio machaon Linné, 1758 on the other hand, show a much lesser vitality (Pierron 1990). In nature, such hybrids between P. hospiton and P. machaon are regularly observed. These have fertile descendants, but the development of them is disturbed (Tolman & Lewington 1998).


Chromosome number (haploid): unknown (Higgins, 1975)

Worth knowing:


GBIF 2014. Biodiversity occurrence data accessed through GBIF Data Portal, URL: http://www.gbif.net [online 14 May 2014].
Gené, J. 1839. De quibusdam insectis sardiniae novis aut minus cognitis. Fasciculus II. Memorie della reale accademia delle scienze di Torino. Serie seconda 1: 43-84, pl. I-II. Torino (Stamperia reale).
Higgins L.G. & N.D. Riley 1978. Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, übersetzt von W. Forster, 2. Auflage, Verlag Paul Parey, Hamburg und Berlin.
Higgins, L. 1975. The Classification of European Butterflies, Collins, London.
Pierron, M. 1990. Contribution a la connaissance de la biologie de Papilio machaon saharae Obth. Differences avec Papilio machaon machaon L. et hybridations experimentales (Lep. Papilionidae). Alexanor 16 (6): 331-340.
Rodeland, J. 2014. Papilio hospiton, Anmerkung zur Autorschaft. Lepiforum. URL: http://www.lepiforum.de/lepiwiki.pl?Papilio_Hospiton [online 14 May 2014].
Tolman T. & R. Lewington 1998. Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, übersetzt von M. Nuß, Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co., Stuttgart.

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2006.01.12
Kurz Michael: 2006.01.15
Kurz Michael: 2011.04.12
Kurz Michael: 2011.04.26
Kurz Michael: 2013.01.29
Kurz Michael: 2014.04.24
Kurz Michael: 2014.05.14
Kurz Michael: 2014.05.15
Kurz Michael: 2014.05.26
Kurz Michael: 2014.06.06
Kurz Michael: 2014.11.05
Kurz Michael: 2014.11.18
Document reviewed by:
not reviewed: 2014.11.18
Document released by:
Kurz Michael: 2014.11.18