Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Old World Swallowtail
Papilio machaon Linnaeus, 1758

Family: Papilionidae
Subfamily: Papilioninae
Identification: Upperside of hindwing near tail has reddish-orange eyespot with black along lower border touching inner edge of hindwing or at least not a centered eyespot.
Wing Span: 2 1/2 - 3 inches (6.5 - 7.5 cm).
Life History: Females lay eggs singly on the host plant, and newly-hatched caterpillars eat the leaves. Older caterpillars feeding on plants of the parsley family prefer to eat the flowers. Chrysalids overwinter.
Flight: In north, one flight in late May-July; two flights in south.
Caterpillar Hosts: Sagebrushes (Artemisia species), including Arctic wormwood and wild tarragon, rarely plants in the parsley family.
Adult Food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Open hilltops, mountain meadows, tundra.
Range: Holarctic. In North America, south from Alaska to northern British Colombia, east across Canada to western Quebec. Southern British Colombia south through New Mexico. Comments: Includes , P. oregonius and P. bairdii.
Conservation: Not noted as of concern, but is rare or uncommon.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: None noted.