The swallowtail is Britain's largest and most exotic butterfly. Its name refers to the extensions on the hind-wings which look rather like a swallow's tail.

Overview

Photo by Ell Christman - Flickr © CC BY 2.0 Distribution: in Britain restricted entirely to the Norfolk Broads. Widespread and fairly common throughout Europe, Africa, Asia.

Habitat: wetlands such as fens and marshes.

Description: black and creamy-yellow with red-and-blue false 'eye'. Extensions on hind-wings. Caterpillars are green, black and orange.

Size: wingspan 95mm.

Life-span: adult lives for one month.

Food: caterpillars will only eat the foliage of a group of plants called umbellifers - a group that includes carrot, fennel and angelica, but they show a marked preference for milk parsley. Adults feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.

The swallowtail is Britain's largest and most exotic butterfly. Its name refers to the extensions on the hind-wings which look rather like a swallow's tail. These 'tails' and false 'eyes' on the hind-wing mimic the head and antennae (feelers) of the butterfly. This confuses birds as to the true head of their prey and gives the swallowtail a better chance of escaping. Sadly, this beautiful butterfly is extremely rare in Britain.

Read More: Swallowtail Habits

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