Papilio dardanus has the common name of the Flying Handkerchief, but more frequently is referred to as the African Swallowtail as it lives on a great deal of the African continent.

The males are pale yellow with black margins, or brown on the underside, and they have long tails on their hind wings. Their wingspan can be 4 to 4.7 inches.

It can be harder to correctly identify the females because they are known for their mimicry. They take a variety of morphs, forming many subspecies and forms across this species as they mimic distasteful milkweed butterflies to avoid being eaten by predators.

The females generally don’t have the same tails on their hind wings as the males, with the exception of the populations in Madagascar, Ethiopia, Somalia and Comoros where they look similar to males.


Source: Andrei Sourakov, asourakov@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-2013

Learn more about the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity at the Florida Museum.

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