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Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly Feeding

Citrus swallowtail butterfly feeding on nectar Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio demodocus) settles briefly on plumbago flower while feeding on the nectar, Curry's Post, KZN, South Africa. © Scotch Macaskill

Camera Gear: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Focal length: 400mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter speed: 1/800; ISO: 400

Citrus Swallowtails, beautiful, conspicuous black butterflies with yellow to white markings, are also known as Orange Dogs or Christmas butterflies. They are widely spread throughout Southern Africa and commonly sighted in gardens, particularly when there are citrus trees nearby.

Both males and females, when feeding on the nectar of garden flowers, will hover briefly at each flower, their wings in constant motion, before flitting off and resuming their flight in search of the next flower. Females are sighted less often than males as they spend much of their time searching for suitable food plants on which to lay their eggs.

The Citrus Swallowtail is most visible in December (summer), particularly in cooler areas, which is why it's also known as the Christmas Butterfly.

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