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Iphiclides podalirius

Iphiclides podalirius (*)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Panorpida
Cladus: Amphiesmenoptera
Ordo: Lepidoptera
Subordo: Glossata
Cladus: Coelolepida
Cladus: Myoglossata
Cladus: Neolepidoptera
Infraordo: Heteroneura
Cladus: Eulepidoptera
Cladus: Ditrysia
Cladus: Apoditrysia
Cladus: Obtectomera
Superfamilia: Papilionoidea

Familia: Papilionidae
Subfamilia: Papilioninae
Tribus: Leptocircini
Genus: Iphiclides
Species: Iphiclides podalirius
Subspecies: I. p. feisthamelii – I. p. podalirius – I. p. xinyuanensis

Iphiclides podalirius (Linnaeus, 1758)

Papilio podalirius Linnaeus, 1758

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio Decima, Reformata. Tomus I. Holmiæ (Stockholm): impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii. 824 pp. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.542 BHL p. 463 BHL Reference page.

Additional references

Huang, R.-X. & Murayama, S.-i. 1992. Butterflies of Xinjiang Province, China. Tyô to Ga 43(1): 1–22. Full article (PDF). Reference page.


Iphiclides podalirius Taxon details on Fauna Europaea
ZooBank: AF4F9901-3A9C-4621-A148-B7A2D8E6E8BC

Vernacular names
беларуская: Падалірый
български: Лястовича опашка
čeština: otakárek ovocný
dansk: Sydeuropæisk svalehale
Deutsch: Segelfalter
English: Scarce Swallowtail
español: Chupaleches
suomi: Purjeperhonen
français: Flambé
hrvatski: Prugasto jedarce
magyar: Kardoslepke, kardfarkú lepke
lietuvių: Podalirijus
Nederlands: Koningspage
polski: paź żeglarz
русский: Подалирий
slovenčina: vidlochvost ovocný
Türkçe: Erik kırlangıçkuyruğu

The scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) is a butterfly belonging to the family Papilionidae. It is also called the sail swallowtail or pear-tree swallowtail.[1]


Subspecies include:[2]

Iphiclides podalirius podalirius (Central and Southern Europe)
Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii (North Africa, Spain and southwest France)
Iphiclides podalirius persica Verity, 1911
Iphiclides podalirius virgatus (Butler, 1865)

Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii is sometimes treated as a valid species, Iphiclides feisthamelii.[3]

Despite the name "scarce swallowtail", this species is quite common. The scarcity of United Kingdom migrants is responsible for the English vernacular name. This species is widespread in the East Palearctic realm and in most of Europe with the exception of the northern parts. Its range extends northwards to Lower Lusatia and central Poland and eastwards across Asia Minor and Transcaucasia as far as the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, India and western China.[2][4] A few specimens of the scarce swallowtail have been reported from central Sweden and the United Kingdom but they were probably only strays and not migrants.

These swallowtail butterflies inhabit gardens, towns as well as the countryside, in fields and open woodlands. They are found in places with sloe thickets and particularly orchards. In the Alps they can be found up to altitudes of 2000 m, but usually they prefer foothills and lower levels.[5][3]

The presence of Iphiclides podalirius in the floodplain of the Morava River in the Slovak Republic have been found to be a good indicator of relatively well preserved xerothermic grassland habitats with forest-steppe vegetation, which have no cutting history.[6]

In some years the scarce swallowtail is quite abundant. The scarce swallowtail is getting rarer as blackthorn bushes are being cleared. The butterfly is now protected by law in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Russia, Ukraine and Poland.[1] It is considered rare and endangered and protected in some provinces of Austria and of indeterminate status throughout Europe. In Armenia the species demonstrates stable population trend and is evaluated as Least Concern.[7] Though referred by some authorities to be of status "vulnerable",[6]: 46 [8] it is however unlisted in the IUCN Red List.[9]

Iphiclides podalirius has a wingspan of 60–80 millimetres (2.4–3.1 in) in males, of 62–90 millimetres (2.4–3.5 in) in females. It is a very large distinctive butterfly. The background color of the wings is creamy white or pale yellow. On the front wings there are six tiger stripes and wedge-shaped markings. At the outer edge of the hind wings there are blue crescent markings, with an oblong, orange spot at the back corner and a relatively long tail.[3][5]

This species is rather similar to Papilio machaon, Papilio hospiton, Papilio alexanor and Protographium marcellus.


Male underside


Female underside

Iphiclides podalirius on a Cistus creticus flower

Adults of Iphiclides podalirius fly from March to October. There are one, two, or three generations a year.[5] Caterpillars are polyphagous feeding on Crataegus (Finland), Crataegus monogyna (Palaearctic), Malus pumila and Malus domestica (Palaearctic), Prunus (Finland, Palaearctic), Prunus armeniaca (Palaearctic, Spain), Prunus avium (Palaearctic, Spain) Prunus cerasus (Palaearctic, Russia), Prunus domestica (Palaearctic), Prunus dulcis (Palaearctic, Spain), Prunus padus (Palaearctic), Prunus persica (Palaearctic), Prunus spinosa (Palaearctic), Pyrus (Palaearctic) and Sorbus aucuparia (Palaearctic).

The caterpillars spin little pads on leaves and grip them firmly. The newly hatched caterpillar is dark in colour with two smaller and two bigger greenish patches on the dorsal side; later they are greenish with yellowish dorsal and side stripes. The summer chrysalids are green as a rule, the hibernating ones are brown. A number of hibernating chrysalids fall prey to various enemies. The caterpillars of the scarce swallowtail have been noted to leave silk trails from the permanent resting sites to feeding sites. This has been seen in both solitary and territorial larvae with larvae having the ability to discern their trails from those of others.[10]
A Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) on lavender

Research on pupae of Iphiclides podalirius in Spain indicates that the pupae manifest in two colours, green and brown, for the purpose of camouflage. The green pupae develop on host plants and develop directly while brown pupae enter into diapause in the leaf litter. Pupating larvae tend to form green pupae before August while after August they tend to form brown pupae. Duration of the photophase or light period appears to be the mechanism which dictates the path of development of the pupa. The results suggest that the green pupa develop on food plants to avoid predation by small mammals and visual avian predators while the brown pupa develop on leaf litter to avoid avian predators.[11]
Life cycle


Pupating caterpillar



Collins, N. Mark; Morris, Michael G. (1985). "Iphiclides podalirius (Linnaeus, 1758)". Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland & Cambridge: IUCN. p. 45. ISBN 978-2-88032-603-6 – via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
"Iphiclides Hübner, [1819]" at Markku Savela's Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms
Euro Butterflies by Matt Rowlings
Fauna europaea
"Captain's European Butterfly Guide". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
Kulfan, Miroslav; Degma, Peter; Kalivoda, Henrik (1995). "Lepidoptera of different grassland types across the Morava floodplain" (PDF). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. 34: 39–47. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
Butterfly Conservation Armenia. "The State of Iphiclides podalirius (Linnaeus, 1758) in Armenia". Butterfly Conservation Armenia. TSE NGO. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
Popov, 1989. On research of Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera population of Carpathian State Reserve. /S.G. Popov// Information Report of thesis, IV Conference of young scientists. 1-3 of June 1989 devoted to 70 Anniversary of YCL. Uzhgorod, 1989:138.
A search for "Iphiclides" in the search facility of the IUCN Red List web site provides no result. Accessed 27 October 2010.
Weyh, R.; Maschwitz, U. (1982). "Individual trail marking by larvae of the scarce swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius L. (Lepidoptera; Papilionidae)". Oecologia. 52 (3): 415–416. Bibcode:1982Oecol..52..415W. doi:10.1007/BF00367969. PMID 28310405. S2CID 1278796.
Stefanescu, C. (2004). "Seasonal change in pupation behaviour and pupal mortality in a swallowtail butterfly" (PDF). Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. 27 (2): 25–36. Retrieved 28 October 2010.

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