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English Swallowtail Butterfly

(Papilio machaon britannicus)

2014 was my first try at rearing the lovely English Swallowtail butterfly. I was doing really well until my wife let a pet rabbit run loose in our garden, the rabbit ate my carrot tops which were the larvae food plant. One of two rabbits my Daughter kindly left us after moving out, my family thought it was funny but I was not laughing at the time. I lost a few larvae after that but have some females and males waiting to hatch next year.

The Swallowtail butterfly which is our largest native butterfly can be seen along the Norfolk Broads flying over its larvae food plant Milk Parsley although recently in 2014 there have been sightings along the South coast.

Larvae can be reared on its fenland food plant Milk Parsley, Fennel, Carrot tops and the flowers of Parsnip.

The brightly coloured forked structure which protrudes from behind the head of the larvae when threatened is called an osmeterium, shown on the top left picture.

And as I found out when filming the caterpillars emit a very smelly secretion which I could still smell after washing my hands.

Andy Newman Images©


Swallowtail pupae.