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Zerynthia polyxena (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775)

Vazrick Nazari and Frédéric Carbonell
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Containing group: Zerynthia


The life history of this species has been discussed and illustrated by Higgins (1975), Acquier (1981), Pamperis 1997 (Greece), and Hesselbarth et al. (1995). Hemming (1967) gave a detailed explanation on the nomenclatorial history of Z. polyxena and how this name was finally established as the valid name. Genitalia are illustrated by Higgins (1975). Coutsis (1989) pointed out variation in valvae among some European populations. Sijaric (1989) studied wing pattern variability within populations in Yugoslavia, and Lux (1990) conducted a similar study on variation within a single subspecies, Z. polyxena creusa, in France. Hesselbarth et al. (1995) have provided a historical summary of research on Z. polyxena.

Geographical Distribution

This species has a wide distribution in Europe. It is recorded from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Italy, Switzerland (?), Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania (?), Bulgaria, and Greece (Higgins and Riley, 1970). Its range also extends into the western Caucasus, Turkey, south Urals, Kazakhstan, and east to southwest Russia (Lower Volga region) (Kudrna, 2002).

Geographical Variation

Thirty-one subspecies are listed by Nardelli and Hirschfeld (2002) and appear chronologically below. Most of these names, however, represent populations that are morphologically very similar and demonstrate great local variation. At least a dozen subspecies have been described from Italy alone, while only 4 or 5 of them at best represent populations that can be considered subspecifically distinct entities. All synonymy and type localities for subspecies listed below are after Nardelli and Hirschfeld, 2002.

  1. Z. polyxena polyxena (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775) (Type locality: "Wien").
  2. Z. polyxena cassandra (Geyer, 1828) (Type locality: France, Alpes Maritimes) (= creusa Meigen, 1829; Type locality: Central Italy).
  3. Z. polyxena demnosia Freyer, 1833 (Type locality: Yugoslavia, Dalmatia, Trieste, Fiume).
  4. Z. polyxena polymnia Millière, 1880 (Type locality: Greece, Euboea) (= thusnelda Fruhstorfer, 1908; Type locality: Greece, Thessalia).
  5. Z. polyxena latiaris Stichel, 1907 (Type locality: Italy, Lazio).
  6. Z. polyxena gracilis Schultz, 1908 (Type locality: Turkey, Bitinia, Bursa) (= macedonia Eisner, 1974; Type locality: Macedonia, Skopje).
  7. Z. polyxena reverdinii Fruhstorfer, 1908 (Type locality: Italy, Liguria, Rapllo).
  8. Z. polyxena thesto Fruhstorfer, 1908 (Type locality: Russia, Saratow).
  9. Z. polyxena latevittata Verity, 1919 (Type locality: Sicily) (= vipsania Hemming, 1941; Type locality: Sicily).
  10. Z. polyxena nemorensis Verity, 1919 (Type locality: Italy, Toscana, Forte dei Martini).
  11. Z. polyxena albanica Riemel, 1927 (Type locality: Albania, Tirana).
  12. Z. polyxena aemiliae Rocci, 1929 (Type locality: Italy, Emilia Romagna).
  13. Z. polyxena padana Rocci, 1929 (Type locality: unknown).
  14. Z. polyxena taygetana Rosen, 1929 (Type locality: Greece, Taygetos).
  15. Z. polyxena linnea (Bryk, 1932) (Type locality: Italy, Elba).
  16. Z. polyxena petrii (Bryk, 1932) (Type locality: Russia, Cherson, Berislav).
  17. Z. polyxena cassandra-clara Verity, 1947 (Type locality: Croatia, Zagabria).
  18. Z. polyxena microcreusa Verity, 1947 (Type locality: France, Roquebrune).
  19. Z. polyxena deminuta Verity, 1947 (Type locality: France, Nice, St. Bernabè).
  20. Z. polyxena tristis de Lattin, 1950 (Type locality: Turkey, Aydos Dagi).
  21. Z. polyxena bryki Eisner, 1954 (Type locality: border of Montenegro and Herzegovina).
  22. Z. polyxena silana Storace, 1962 (Type locality: Italy, Calabria, Sila Piccola).
  23. Z. polyxena bosniensis Eisner, 1974 (Type locality: Bosnia, Dol. Tuzla).
  24. Z. polyxena idaensis Eisner, 1974 (Type locality: Crete).
  25. Z. polyxena nigra Sijaric, 1989 (Type locality: Bosnia-Hercegowina, Sarajevo).
  26. Z. polyxena sontae Sijaric, 1989 (Type locality: Serbia, Backa).
  27. Z. polyxena carmenae Sabariego and Martinez, 1991 (Type locality: Kalofer, Bulgaria).
  28. Z. polyxena decastroi Sala and Bollino, 1992 (Type locality: Italy, Prealpi Venete) (= aegidii Nardelli, 1993; Type locality: Italy, Prealpi Venete).
  29. Z. polyxena michaelis Nardelli, 1993 (Type locality: Italy, Apulia).
  30. Z. polyxena patrizii Nardelli, 1993 (Type locality: Italy, Calabria, Costa Ionica).
  31. Z. polyxena caucasiae Nardelli and Hirschfeld, 2002 (Type locality: Black Sea, Sothsi).

Larval Food Plant

Several species of Aristolochia are recorded as the larval food plant of Z. polyxena, including A. pallida, A. pontica, A. pistolochia, A. rotunda, A. clematitis, and A. sicula (Bryk, 1934; Higgins and Riley, 1970; Ackery, 1975; Acquier, 1981; Hesslebarth et al., 1995), as well as A. longa (Carbonell, personal observation).


Ackery, P.R., 1975. A guide to the genera and species of Parnassiinae (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. Ent. 31: 71-105, plates 1-15.

Acquier, J.C., 1981. Ponte de Zerynthia polyxena et Zerynthia rumina en captivité. Bulletin de la Societe Sciences Nat 32: 20.

Bryk, F., 1934. Baroniidae, Teinopalpidae, Parnassiidae, Part.I. Das Tierreich, Deutschen Zoologische Gesellschaft im Auftrag der Preussischen Akademie der Wissensch. Berlin und Lepizig, 64: I-XXIII, 1-131.

Coutsis, J.G., 1989. Valval variation in Zerynthia polyxena (Denis and Schiffermüller) (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Entomologist’s Gazette 40: 281-282.

De Lattin, G., 1950. Türkiye Kelebekleri Hakkinda I. – Türkische Lepidoperen I. Istanb. Univ. Fen Fak. Mecm. B15: 301-331.

Eisner, C., 1974. Parnassiana Nova XLIX. Die Arten und Unterarten der Baroniidae, Teinopalpidae und Parnassiidae (Erster teil) (Lepidoptera). Zoologische Verhandelingen Uitgegeven door het Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie te Leiden, 135: 1-96.

Hemming, A.F., 1967. The generic names of the butterflies and their type-species (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. Ent. Suppl. 9: 509 pp.

Hesselbarth, G., van Oorschot, H., Wagener, S., 1995. Die Tagfalter der Türkei. 1. 754 pp. Bocholt, Selbstverlag Sigbert Wagener.

Higgins, L.G., 1975. The Classification of European Butterflies. London, Collins, 320 pp.

Higgins, L.G., Riley, N.D., 1970. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 380 pp.

Kudrna, O., 2002. The Distribution Atlas of European Butterflies. Bonn: Naturschutzbund Deutschland; Schweinfurt, Germany: Gesellschaft für Schmetterlingsschutz; Stenstrup, Denmark: Apollo Books, 343 pp.

Lux, C., 1990. Ethologie, systematique and ecologie de Zerynthia polyxena creusa Meigen dans les Alples-Maritimes (Fomes, variétés et aberrations du Papilionidae). Bulletin de la Societe Sciences Nat, 66: 9-17.

Nardelli, U., Hirschfeld, G., 2002. Abberations, formes et sous-especes de Zerynthia polyxena Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775 (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Lambillionea 102: 223-240.

Nardelli, U., 1993. Drei neue unterarten von Zerynthia polyxena Denis and Schiffermüller in Italien (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Entomologische Zeitschrift 103: 62-66.

Pamperis, L.N., 1997. The Butterflies of Greece. Athens, Greece; Bastas-Plessas, 559 pp.

Sabariego, E., Martinez, J., 1991. Bionomía y distribución geográphica de Zerynthia rumina (Linnaeus, 1758) en España. Boletín de Sanidad Vegetal, Plagas 17: 465-476.

Sala, G., Bollino, M., 1992. Zerynthia polyxena Denis and Schiffermüller from Venetian Prealpes: A new subspecies (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Atalanta (Würzburg) 23: 449-454, Color plate 13.

Sijaric, R., 1989. Taksonomska istrazivanja i nove podverste vrsta roda Zerynthia (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) na nekim podrucjima jugoslavije. Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja u Bosni i Hercegovini (n.s.) 28: 1-240.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Zerynthia polyxena carssandra
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By Carbonell
Sex Male
Copyright © 2006
About This Page

Vazrick Nazari
Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes, Ottawa, Canada

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Vazrick Nazari at and Frédéric Carbonell at

Page: Tree of Life Zerynthia polyxena (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775). Authored by Vazrick Nazari and Frédéric Carbonell. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Nazari, Vazrick and Frédéric Carbonell. 2006. Zerynthia polyxena (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775). Version 07 July 2006 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Zerynthia_polyxena/65415/2006.07.07 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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