20 November 2022

Citrus Swallowtail - Uqair

Whilst birdwatching a small farm near Uqair, Phil Roberts found a female Citrus Swallowtail Papilio demoleus, the first time I had seen one in Saudi Arabia. This is a swallowtail butterfly which occurs commonly over sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar, but also occurs in along all the northeast coasts of the Arabian Peninsula. The caterpillars feed on various native plants, especially Rutaceae, but also the leaves of cultivated citrus trees, hence its common name. This species is found throughout tropical and subtropical regions of southern Asia, ranging from Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Middle East to India, Nepal, southern China, Taiwan, and Japan, and south through Malaysia, Indonesia, and New Guinea to Australia. Its proliferation appears to be aided by agricultural land use and urbanization that creates new, suitable open habitat and enhanced availability of host resources. The adults range in wingspan from 80-100 mm. The hindwing has no tail. The upper portion of the forewing is largely black and the outer wing margin has a series of irregular yellow spots. Two yellow spots are present at the upper end of the discal cell with several scattered yellow spots in the apical region. The upper hindwing has a red tornal spot and the discal black band is dusted with yellow scales. The underside is paler yellow with the black areas more heavily dusted with yellow.