Swallowtail on a pink flower (c) Trevor Hannant


Swallowtails are striking butterflies and strong fast flyers. The large yellow and black wings have a protruding tail, resembling that of a swallow. With a wingspan of around 10 centimetres, they are the largest resident butterfly in the UK. Britain has its own race of swallowtails (Papilio machaon britannicus) that's only found in the fens and marshes of the Norfolk Broads. The European race (Papilio machaon gorganus) is quite common and is found all over Europe, Asia and even North America. Swallowtails brood once, twice or even three times in a year.

Scientific name: Papilio machaon

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Common yellow swallowtail,
  • Old World swallowtail

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The Swallowtail can be found in a number of locations including: Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, North America, Russia, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Swallowtail distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Arthropods
  4. Insects
  5. Butterflies and moths
  6. Papilionidae
  7. Papilio
  8. Swallowtail