Southern Swallowtail

Papilio alexanor Esper, 1800



A large yellow butterfly with four black stripes on the forewing, and a medium length tail on the hindwing. The antennae club is straight and white tipped. Male and female are usually very similar but males may be more intensely coloured than females, as well as being  considereably smaller than females. The wing shape is quite distinctive, though could be confused with I. podalirius, which is somewhat paler in colour, with a long, white-tipped tail, and six black stripes on the forewing. It also resembles P. machaon, which has a scalloped submarginal black band, and the antennae are black and hooked. 

Habitat Requirements

Hilly country, with hot dry slopes and therefore mostly restricted to the uplands of Corfu.

Larval Foodplants

Ammoides pusilla (white flowers) Dill Anethum graveolens, Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium - not on Corfu, Coriander Coriandrum sativum, Giant Fennel Ferula communis, Fennel Foeniculum vulgare, Opopanax chironium (yellow flowers), Opopanax hispidus (yellow flowers), Scaligeria napiformis, Upright Hedge-parsley Torilis japonica, Knotted Hedge-parsley Torilis nodosa.


The least common of Corfu's three Swallowtail species. This butterfly engages in elaborate aerial courtships and takes nectar from Scabious and Thistles.

It is the adult of this species, set on a backdrop of a green Corfu, that is shown in our Corfu Butterfly Conservation icon/symbol.

*The information provided in the tables below is based on verified sightings of the Southern Swallowtail submitted via this website since 1st January 2021.

First and Last Sightings

Year First Last/latest # Days
2023 25/04/2023 12/06/2023 48 days
2022 28/04/2022 27/06/2022 60 days
2021 08/05/2021 21/06/2021 44 days

Number of Observations

Year Number of observations
2023 98
2022 142
2021 228
Grand Total 468

Distribution Map

Distribution maps for this species are currently unavailable.

Flight Times for the Southern Swallowtail (2023)

The chart below shows flight data by month for 2023

Flight Times for the Southern Swallowtail (All Data)

The chart below shows flight data by month since 1st January 2021


  • Vernacular/Common Name: Southern Swallowtail
  • Family: Papilionidae (Latreille, 1802)
  • Sub-family: Papilioninae (Latreille, [1802])
  • Tribe: Papilionini (Latreille, [1802])
  • Genus: Papilio (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Species: alexanor Esper, 1800


For a list of references, please see our bibliography page.