The swallowtail moth is not nearly as rare as swallowtail butterflies, in the UK at any rate.  I suppose I see one most years, since moths inevitably fly in through my open windows if I forget to close them after turning the lights on.

This one had found itself trapped in my office last month, and was spreadeagled on the front window when I walked in first thing.  I let it out after I’d photographed it, of course!


This swallowtail moth is about 4 cms (one and a half inches) across.  You can see the pointed rear wings which give it its name.  When it first emerges its a lovely lemon yellow, but they fade as they get older.  You can see from its left front wing that it’s getting quite battered now, and it’s very pale, so it’s at the end of its lifespan.

We get several similar moths from this family – greys and oranges or umbers among them.  They are known as bloodveins from the trail of lines that each wing bears.  It’s amazing how the markings line up on the front and rear wings.  They live in areas like parks, gardens, fields, hedgerows and woods.  Not surprising they are relatively common then.

Apologies for the state of the windowsill, you can see the remains of other flying insects that came in that night!

Swallowtail moth – Random act of wildness #StayWild

10 thoughts on “Swallowtail moth – Random act of wildness #StayWild

  • 8 August, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Is your windowsill like the fables Elephants Graveyard where the winged nuisances (not the swallowtail) come to die? Are they assisted in their passage by the great God Jemima who struts her stuff with a copy of the Woman’s Weekly or the People’s Friend? Or do they just happily lay down their weary bones ( or equivalent ) and die.
    I’m glad you released the swallowtail after photographing it. Does that capture the soul?
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • 8 August, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      That would be “their weary exoskeletons,” I believe 😀

    • 11 August, 2018 at 8:43 am

      I always try to release stray animals in my house, with the possible exception of mosquitoes and next door’s cat.
      Hopefully my blog will be accepting my comment today. Tribulations of a blogger….

  • 8 August, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    We spoke to a lady who set a moth trap. Apparently these thing encourage moths in so you can catch them, view them, and the release.
    Apparently she’s seen a huge variety of stunning moths that way.

    • 11 August, 2018 at 8:48 am

      Moth traps are wonderful things. No moths are harmed in this exercise!
      The more sophisticated ones use a special very bright light, mounted on a box with a sort of chute below it, so the moths can fall down through a (tennis ball sized) hole in the bottom and find safety in the box below which contains many jumbled up egg boxes. Ideal refuges for moths. You can then examine them in daylight and let them go at dusk.
      You can get a similar effect, enough to see your moths, but not examine them in daylight, by spreading a large sheet up against an outside window on a warm night. Put a bright light in front of it so it illuminates the sheet. Moths will come and fly onto the sheet, but the won’t stay long, and you won’t be able to catch them. You’ll get a general idea of them, and will be able to identify some of them, at least to the family.
      I’ll root out some photos of times I’ve been shown moth traps, and do a post sometime, probably next month.

      • 12 August, 2018 at 10:05 am

        Yeah, I’ve seen the sheet thing at work, sometimes they land on it. It would be interesting to see what types of moth we get around us, perhaps we should try the sheet option, see what turns up.

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