Papilio machaon, the old world swallowtail, is a species of swallowtail that occurs in Europe, Africa, Asia and even North America (paradoxally so because it’s name referring to the “old world”). Like the other species in the machaon-complex, it prefers to lay eggs on Apiaceae plants. It is a medium sized swallowtail that is relatively easy to rear and breed in captivity.
- Difficulty rating: Moderate (Easy for a butterfly but needs more effort than moths)
- Rearing difficulty: 6/10 (From egg to pupa)
- Pairing difficulty: 6.5/10 (Archieving copulations)
- Host plants: Apiaceae (Foeniculum, Anthenum, Pastinaca, Daucus, Petroselinum and many more). Interestingly also Rutaceae in rare cases such as Ruta sp.
- Natural range: Europe, North America, Asia, Russia, Africa
- Polyphagous: Yes but probably only on Poaceae
- Generations: Uni/bivoltine (has one or two generations a year depending on climate, pupae overwinter)
- Family: Papilionidae (swallowtails)
- Pupation: Chrysalis
- Prefered climate: Can be found from temperate to very hot areas
- Special notes: one of the most widely distributed swallowstails in the world, with many endemic subspecies
This Papilionid utilised host plants of mainly the parsley family (Apiaceae) – including fennel (Foeniculum), dill (Anthenum), parsnip (Pastinaca), carrot (Daucus), parsley (Petroselinum) and more. Many of the host plants are considered herbs or vegetables and are widely available for human consumption in grocery stores. Be aware of insecticides/pesticides when using host plant that is commercially grown. Plants from the Ruteacea may also be accepted, like Rue (Ruta graveolens).
The caterpillars start out as predominantly black with a single white stripe, but as they grow they gradually become more colourful. The final instar is green, covered with black stripes and orange dots. They are quite easy to keep in captivity, if one rule is taken into consideration: the caterpillars don’t really tolerate being reared in boxes. They need to be able to free-roam om the host plant. Potted plant is best for this. This applies to all Papilio’s in general: they must be reared freely on a healthy plant.
L4/5 caterpillars feeding
Papilio machaon overwinters as pupa. The pupae may be green, grey or brown. This specie has usually one generation per year although more may occur if the temperature allows it.
Colour variety in pupae
Underside of P.machaon
Thank you for reading my article. This is the end of this page. Below you will find some useful links to help you navigate my website better or help you find more information that you need about moths and butterflies.
Dear reader – thank you very much for visiting! Your readership is much appreciated. Are you perhaps…. (see below)
- Not done browsing yet? Then click here to return to the homepage (HOMEPAGE)
- Looking for a specific species? Then click here to see the full species list (FULL SPECIES LIST)
- Looking for general (breeding)guides and information? Then click here to see the general information (GENERAL INFORMATION)
- Interested in a certain family? Then click here to see all featured Lepidoptera families (FAMILIES)
Citations: Coppens, B. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications]
Was this information helpful to you? Then please consider contributing here (more information) to keep this information free and support the future of this website. This website is completely free to use, and crowdfunded. Contributions can be made via paypal, patreon, and several other ways.
All the funds I raise online will be invested in the website; in the form of new caresheets, but also rewriting and updating the old caresheets (some are scheduled to be rewritten), my educational websites, Youtube, breeding projects, the study of moths and conservation programs.
Donate button (Liberapay; credit card and VISA accepted)
Donate button (PayPal)
Become a member of my Patreon (Patreon)
Find me on YouTube
Find me on Instagram
Join the Discord server: Click here
Join the Whatsapp server: Click here
Buy insect cocoons: Click here
Facebook: Click here
3 thoughts on “Papilio machaon — “Old world swallowtail””
Hi There. Do you supply/sell moths butterflies etc.?
Happy to pay via pay-pal if we can work a happy deal.
I have all Bio Security forms etc available and for Australia
and have been operating over 30 years(breeding,selling,protecting,
teaching etc). Also a professional saxophone musician.(saxman)
Looking for a breeder UK anyone know ?????
Hola don Luis Antonio ,soy el Dr Carlos Wong , se
San Jose Costa Rica , quería saber si podía contar con su colaboración para obtener crisálidas de la especie papilio Machaon , dado a que en el paid que resido por tema
De clima y altura , no tenemos esta especie . Podrías ayudarme a conseguirlo ? Estoy dispuesto a pagar por ejemplar . Voy a intentar contactarle por Whassap . Mi numero es
Agradezco su atención y colaboración .
Enviado desde mi iPhone