Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Papilionidae

Adults. Wingspan (40–)80–100(–108) mm. The wings somewhat translucent (Parnassius), or opaque. The fringes conspicuously light-and-dark banded, or not banded. Slender-bodied to medium built; very short-bodied. The eyes glabrous. Antennae reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips; inserted markedly less than one half the width of the head apart. The antennal clubs somewhat gradual-elongate, or abrupt; curved, or not curved; flattened, or not flattened (often not pale-tipped). Labial palps ascending (appressed to the frons). Having all 6 legs fully developed and operational for walking. Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs without spurs. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred.

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt. The outer and hind margins angled at (90–)100–115 degrees. The outer margins convexly curved to concavely curved, or sigmoid-curved. Uppersides of the forewings white, or cream, or yellow, or primrose, or grey; contrastingly dark-veined to not conspicuously dark-veined.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded (the inner margin concave); tailed, or not tailed; with the outer margins scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; conspicuously patterned. Uppersides of the hindwings eye-spotted. The eye-spots 1 (Papilio, Iphiclides), or 2 (Parnassius), or 6–7 (Zerynthia); near the tornus (in Papilio and Iphiclides), or near the mid-costa, posterior towards the apex, mid-posterior, and near the tornus (in a posterior row, and one mid-costal, in Zerynthia), or near the mid-costa and more or less in the middle (in Parnassius).

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined.

Undersides of the hindwings conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; eye-spotted (cf. the uppersides). The eye-spots 1 (Papilio, Iphiclides), or 2 (Parnassius), or 6–7 (Zerynthia); near the tornus (Papilio, Iphiclides), or near the mid-costa and more or less central (Parnassius), or near the mid-costa, posterior towards the apex, mid-posterior, and near the tornus (Zerynthia).

Wing venation. Forewings 11 veined (Parnassius), or 13 veined; with basally dilated veins (with some dilation, in Iphiclides), or without basally dilated veins. Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein, or with 2 tubular anal veins; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c, or comprising 1a and 1b; vein 1b simple.

Hindwings 8 veined; with a praecostal spur; with 1 anal vein, or with 2 anal veins; lacking vein 1a; the anal veins representing 1b only. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell (Parnassius), or 7 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another, or 3+4 proximally joined, or 4+5 proximally joined.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs sub-globular; more or less smooth. The larvae hairless, or hairy; with a pair of tentacles from segment 2 (these retractile); without bristly spines; exposed feeders. On Umbelliferae (P. machaon), Rosaceae (Iphiclides), Aristolochiaceae (Zerynthia) and Crassulaceae (Parnassius).

Pupae ridged and angular, or smooth and rounded; conspicuously patterned, or plain; without shining-metallic markings; exposed, with no coccoon, or concealed (more or less, in Parnassius); in Papilio not suspended, but attached at the tail and secured by a median girdle of silk.

British representation. Genera 4; 5 species (including 4 adventives). Iphiclides (Papilio) podalirius (Scarce Swallow-tail, adventive), Papilio machaon (Swallow-tail), Parnassius apollo (Apollo, adventive), Parnassius phoebus (Small Apollo, adventive), Zerynthia (Thais) polyxena (Southern Festoon, adventive), rumina (Spanish Festoon, adventive).

Distribution. Frequenting open places. Habitats calcareous and non-calcareous.

Comments. Flight usually strong and sustained, sometimes gliding.

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea.

Illustrations. • Swallow-tailed and Apollo: Newman, 1871. • Papilionidae: larvae of Papilio, Parnassius and Zerynthia (Le Cerf & Herbulot). • Larvae and pupae of Iphiclides podalirius and Papilio machaon: Duponchel (1849).


To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies. Version: 16th May 2016. delta-intkey.com’.

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