This beautiful butterfly of North Africa and the Mediterranean region is large and conspicuous, but in most places it is far from abundant. This is the largest butterfly found in Europe. The males have a wingspan of 6.5 to 7.5cm, while the females are somewhat lager with a wingspan usually between 7.5 and 9cm but exceptionally 10cm. The Two-tailed Pasha is a very fast-flying butterfly.
Not seen in Britain or Ireland, the Two-tailed Pasha, also known as the Foxy Emperor because of the dark foxy-brown colouring in the central regions of its upperwings, is a butterfly of southern Europe, the Mediterranean and northern Africa. The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. (Pictures: Rob Petley-Jones)
This butterfly lays its eggs on the undersides of leaves of the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo. The first-generation adults fly during May and June, and their aggs hatch into larvae that feed during June and July before pcurling into the shape of a letter j, pupating, and then emerging as adult butterflies in mid August.
Larvae from the second brood feed through the autumn and then overwinter on their (evergreen) food plants until the following spring, when they complete their development, pupate, and emerge in late spring and early summer..
Plump hairless, the caterpillar has four distinctive backward-facing spines upon its head. Its body is green with pale yellow lines on either side and whitish speckles either side of each segment. The caterpillar of the Two-tailed Pasha grows to a length of 5cm.