Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar from South Africa

Subject: citrus caterpillar
Location: Cape Town. South Africa
February 2, 2015 10:44 am
I really love this website. It’s wonderful. I found this caterpillar on my grapefruit tree. Summer, mid January. Very beautiful creature. My question is whether this caterpillar is indigenous South Africa and if not, where is it from? Also, could you post an image of its butterfly Please.
Signature: Bonnie

Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Bonnie,
This is indeed a Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar,
Papilio demodocus, and the adult, according to Kirby Wolfe, is known as a Christmas Butterfly because they are most common in December.  The species is native to sub-Saharan Africa, and according to the Butterflies of Africa:  “Papilio demodocus is found across most of sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar, and is also found in s.w. Arabia. The butterfly bears a remarkable resemblance to P. demoleus, an Oriental species found from n.e. Arabia to the Philippines, and which also occurs in Australasia. The two species however are not as closely related as their appearance would seem to indicate.”  Here are some images of the adult Citrus Swallowtail from our archives.

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