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

Iphiclides podalirius podalirius (Linné, 1758)

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Papilio podalirius, Linnaeus, 1758: 463.
Type locality: Italy, Tuscany, Livorno (designated by Verity, 1947)
Scarce Swallowtail
Le Flambé


: Styria, southeastern uplands, near Feldbach, Gossendorf, 1977.07.24, leg. M.Pfeiler, coll. Michael Kurz underside view of the same butterfly    
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view

(examined: 1 )

wing expanse: 65 mm
The head is dark, the eyes are brown, the relativley short antennae are black. The frons is hairy, the palpi are really small.
The thorax is greyish black on the upperside, with two light lines leading from the head to the base of each forewing. On the upper side, the ground colour of the wings is yellowish white with dark grey transverse fasciae that alternately reach from the anterior margin to the middle of the wing or to the anal margin respectively. The hindwings are more than 15 mm long tailed and have a dark outer margin with a row of blue, crescent-shaped spots. On the anal angle of the hindwing there is black eyelike spot with a blue nucleus and a broad, orange margin on the upper side. The tails of the hindwing are black, the last 3 mm being white on the contrary. The lower side of the wings is slightly more yellowish, but giving a lighter impression since the two outermost transverse fasciae of the forewing only have black border lines with a greyish yellow inner aerea. On the hindwing the second transverse fascia seen from the base of the wing has dark border lines and a faint reddish inner core. In contrast to the upper side, there a further two similar, but shorter and weaker fasciae right next to the one described. Also in contrast to the upper side, the anal margin of the wing is not darkened, a subanal gorge is missing. Besides the dark tarsae, the legs are almost white, with black colour laterally.
The abdomen is black on the upper side and whitish beneath.


The distribution aera covers central and southern Europe, Asia minor to the Transcaucasus and temperate Asia to western China. In central Europe the species is found as far north as to the german low mountain range, the northern borderline crossing Saxony and central Poland. In the northern german lowlands the species is not autochthonous, although single butterflies can be found here as well as in England and up to central Sweden from time to time. In the alps the species reaches a height of approximately 1600 m.


Greece, Epirus, street to Ioannina, between Pente Eklesies und Plakoti, 2003.05.19 the same butterfly the same butterfly Styria, near Graz, Enzelsdorf, 2004.08.08
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: Kurz Michael
Detailed view
Picture from: © Gillmann Johannes
Detailed view
Styria, near Graz, Enzelsdorf, 2002.04.07 Styria, near Graz, Enzelsdorf    
Picture from: © Gillmann Johannes
Detailed view
Picture from: © Gillmann Johannes
Detailed view

As biotops, richly structured areas with shrubs, wood margins and adjoining flowering meadows are preferred. The animals like sunny and dry slopes, gliding elegantly with almost not moving their wings. The butterflies are on the wing mostly individually, north of the Alps in one generation from may till july. A second generation is found south of the Alps, but also in very warm areas like the Alsace, the Main valley, in Moravia and in Lower Austria.

Stages in development:

Larva: Styria, near Graz, Enzelsdorf, 2003.09.21 Larva, exhibiting its osmaterium: without data    
Picture from: © Gillmann Johannes
Detailed view
Picture from: wikimedia commons: Abrahami (GNU Free Documentation Licence)
Detailed view

The eggs are laid separately on the underside of leaves of wild plum (Prunus spinosa). Additional foodplants are said to be Prunus padus, Prunus cerasus, as well as further Prunus-, Crataegus, Pyrus- und Malus-specis, but also Sorbus aucuparia.

The young larva is blackish, bristly, with two withish spots on the backside and a black head. From the second instar on, she is already green or yellow with yellow dorsal and lateral lines, yellow oblique streaks and brown dots. She is of peculiar shape, hump-backed, smooth, tapering to the posterior end. With this shape and colour she is well adopted to the leaves of her favourite foodplant, which is Prunus spinosa. When creeping, the larva is gently moving to and fro. North of the Alps she can be found in june and july, south of Alps in june and again in august.

The pupe overwinters. Adjusted to the place of pupation and to the season she is green (in summer between the leaves) or yellow to leathery brown (on bare twigs during the winter).


-genitalia, laterally: Romania      
Picture from: © Higgins 1975, modified
Detailed view


The taxon feisthameli(i) Duponchel, 1832 inhabiting the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa has the first generation on the upperside with greyish withe and pale yellow , the black drawings being more heavily than with podalirius. Furthermore the black marginal region of the hindwing is broader on the upperside. With the second generation the are white on the upperside, the often being pale yellow. The dark inner marginal and submarginal fasciae are reduced and are interrupted by a fine pale line or fascia (Tolman & Lewington, 1998). The status of feisthamelii as a ssp. of podalirius or as a valid species is still under discussion.


chromosome number (haploid): 30 (Higgins, 1975)

Worth knowing:


Forster W. & Th.A. Wohlfahrt (1976): Die Schmetterlinge Mitteleuropas, 2, 2. Auflage, Franckh´sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart
Higgins, L. (1975): The Classification of European Butterflies, Collins, London
Higgins L.G. & N.D. Riley (1978): Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, übersetzt von W. Forster, 2. Auflage, Verlag Paul Parey, Hamburg und Berlin
Leraut P. (1992): Les papillons dans leur milieu, Bordas
Tolman T. & R. Lewington (1998): Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, übersetzt von M. Nuß, Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co., Stuttgart

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2006.01.13
Kurz Michael: 2006.01.15
Kurz Michael: 2011.04.12
Kurz Michael: 2011.04.13
Kurz Michael: 2018.08.30
not reviewed