Papilio zalmoxis

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Giant blue swallowtail
Papilio zalmoxis.JPG
Blue sheen - mounted specimen
Papilionidae - Papilio zalmoxis.JPG
From the DRC, green sheen - mounted specimen
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Papilio
Species: P. zalmoxis
Binomial name
Papilio zalmoxis
Hewitson, 1864[1]
  • Icarus zalmoxis f. sufferti Röber, 1898
  • Icarus zalmoxis f. ripponi Röber, 1898
  • Papilio zalmoxis ab. cinereus Schultze, 1913

Papilio zalmoxis, the giant blue swallowtail, is an African butterfly belonging to the family Papilionidae. The name of the species is given in honor of Zalmoxis – a divinity of the Getae (a people of the lower Danube), mentioned by Herodotus in his Histories IV, 93–96.


Papilio zalmoxis has a wingspan reaching about 12–16 centimetres (4.7–6.3 in) and it is the second largest African swallowtail. The colour of the upperside of the wings is usually blue but can be greenish, contrasting with the light-gray color of the underside of the wings. Previously thought to produce the blue colour by Tyndall scattering,[2] the scales of Papilio zalmoxis are not nanostructured for incoherent scattering, instead the blue is a fluorescent pigmentary colour.[3]

The uppersides of the forewings have narrow black stripes between black veins. The tip of the wings is black. Uppersides of the hindwings have a black marginal band, with a chain of blue spots. The body is bright yellow. Females are slightly smaller than males, and less brightly colored. The background colour of its wings is yellowish brown.


Papilio zalmoxis is an African butterfly, living in tropical areas (Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zaire, Ivory Coast).



  1. ^ "Afrotropical Butterflies: File C – Papilionidae - Tribe Papilionini". Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  2. ^ Huxley, J. (Jun. 30, 1976). The Coloration of Papilio zalmoxis and P. antimachus, and the Discovery of Tyndall Blue in Butterflies. Proc. R. Soc. Lond B. 193:(1113):441-453.
  3. ^ Prum, Richard O.; Tim Quinn & Rodolfo H. Torres (2006-02-15). "Anatomically diverse butterfly scales all produce structural colours by coherent scattering.". J. Exp. Biol. 209 (4): 748. Retrieved 2014-03-21. 

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