Papilio palinurus

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Papilio palinurus
Emerald Swallowtail.jpg
Scientific classification
P. palinurus
Binomial name
Papilio palinurus
Fabricius, 1787

Papilio palinurus, the emerald swallowtail, emerald peacock or green-banded peacock, is a butterfly of the genus Papilio of the family Papilionidae. It is native to Southeast Asia, but is regularly kept in butterfly houses around the world.


There are several subspecies (from Burma, Borneo, Indonesia, Nias and the Philippines).

  • P. p. palinurus – Burma, Malaysia Borneo
  • P. p. auffenbergi Späth, 1992Simeulue, Indonesia[1]
  • P. p. nymphodorus (Fruhstorfer) – Island of Basilan
  • P. p. adventus (Fruhstorfer) – Island of Nias
  • P. p. daedalus (C. & R. Felder, 1861) – Philippines
  • P. p. angustatus (Staudinger, 1888)Island of Palawan, Philippines


The genus name Papilio comes from the Latin word papilio meaning butterfly. The species name palinurus derives from Palinurus, the name of the pilot of Aeneas's boat in Virgil's Aeneid.


Papilio palinurus has a wingspan reaching about 8–10 centimetres (3.1–3.9 in). The dorsal sides of the wings are covered by a powder of green scales and the background vary from dark greenish to black, with broad bright emerald green metallic bands. The undersides are black with orange, white and blue spots along the edges of hindwings, that show extended tails at the end.

The flight of these butterflies is swift and quite fast. Caterpillars feed on plants of genus Euodia belonging to the Rutaceae, commonly known as the rue or citrus family.

Green by structural coloration[edit]

The green of Papilio palinurus is created by structural coloration, using special microstructures in the wing scales.

The iridescent green sheen of the bands of this butterfly is not produced by pigments, but is structural coloration produced by the microstructure of the wing scales. They refract the light and give rise to blue and yellow visible reflections, producing the perception of green color when additively mixed.[2][3][4]


This species can be found primarily in Southeast Asia, particularly in Burma - Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Indonesia (Simeulue, Island of Nias), Philippines (Basilan, Palawan, Balabac, Cuyo, Busuanga and Dumaran).


Papilio palinurus lives in Asian primary forests.



  1. ^ Späth, Manfred (1992). "Zwei neue Taxa der Gattung Papilio Linnaeus 1758 aus Indonesia (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae)". Entomologische Zeitschrift. 102 (16): 289–304.
  2. ^ Ball, Philip (May 2012). "Scientific American". Nature's Color Tricks. 306. pp. 74–79. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0512-74. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  3. ^ Crne, Matija; Vivek Sharma, John Blair, Jung Ok Park, Christopher J. Summers and Mohan Srinivasarao - Biomimicry of optical microstructures of Papilio palinurus - EPL -Volume 93, Number 1, January 2011
  4. ^ Vukusic, P.; Sambles, J.R.; & Lawrence, C.R. (2000). Structural colour: Colour mixing in wing scales of a butterfly. Nature 404:457.

Other reading[edit]

  • Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach. (1998). Schmetterlinge der Erde, Butterflies of the World Part I (1), Papilionidae Papilionidae I: Papilio, Subgenus Achillides, Bhutanitis, Teinopalpus. Edited by Erich Bauer and Thomas Frankenbach. Keltern: Goecke & Evers; Canterbury: Hillside Books ISBN 9783931374624
  • Zipcodezoo
  • Biolib

External links[edit]