Butterflies of Europe
Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - LEPTOCIRCINI
genus Iphiclides comprises just 3
species, feisthamelii, podalirius and
the confusingly named podalirinus. The
considered to be a subspecies of podalirius
but is no recognised as a distinct species, and is restricted to
Iphiclides feisthamelii is considered
by many workers to be a subspecies of
podalirius. It is found in Spain, Portugal, southern France
and north Africa. It differs from podalirius
in having a paler almost white ground colour, and has a darker and
broader submarginal band on the hindwings.
Iphiclides podalirius is distributed
across most of central and southern Europe, excluding the British
Isles, Ireland and Fennoscandia.
Its common name
Scarce Swallowtail refers to the fact that it has on extremely rare
occasions been recorded in Britain, e.g. in 1895 two specimens were
captured, one in Devon and the other in Kent. These may however have
been "fake" captures, a practice common in the Victorian era when
collectors would do almost anything to raise their status among
their contemporaries. There is no evidence that the species was ever
a resident or regular migrant to the British Isles.
In Europe the
butterfly is widespread and fairly common, although it has become
much scarcer in recent years as a result of the removal of
blackthorn bushes and hedges.
species occurs in warm and usually dry habitats where blackthorn
grows in profusion. It is found from sea level to at least 2400m but
is most often encountered below 1500m.
eggs are laid on the foliage of blackthorn
Prunus spinosa, or less commonly on other
Prunus species including
mahaleb and padus.
There are also records of larvae feeding on
Pyrus communis, Malus domestica,
Crataegus monogyna and
© Martin Parr
sexes are usually encountered singly. Males visit seepages and patches
of damp soil where they imbibe mineralised moisture. At such times
they keep their wings firmly closed.
Females are more often seen nectaring at the flowers of trees and
bushes including apple, pear, cherry, lilac and
Buddleia, but also visit herbaceous plants including valerian,
bugle, thistles, knapweeds, ragwort and stonecrop. When nectaring the
wings are usually held at a 45° angle as shown in the photo above.