Look out - there's a Papilio machaon/gorganus sp (rare French butterfly) about

French butterfly

The Continental butterfly - Credit: Dennis Kallmer

A rare visitor from the Continent dropped in on the Bay for a flying visit.

The Continental Swallowtail ( Papilio machaon/gorganus sp) is a butterfly which usually flits around the Brittany area of France. It decided to home in on Brixham's Berry Head last week.

Paignton-based Dennis Kallmer, a keen photographer and entomologist, was observing the birds, butterflies and dragonflies at the Clennon Lakes in Paignton when news broke of the Swallowtail sighting.

Bird and butterfly watcher

Dennis Kallmer - Credit: Submitted

Dennis and Dave Holloway, who is also from Paignton, went to search for the butterfly and found it nectaring on thistles.

Dennis said: "Whilst flighty, it stayed long enough for photographs and observation and refuelled on nectar before taking  off swiftly to the skies above Torbay."

He added: "This Swallowtail was  the continental race and almost certainly a migrant from France, probably Brittany. The British race emerges in adult form earlier in May and June in Norfolk  only where the larva feed solely on Milk Parsley. Milk Parsley is rarely recorded in Devon.

"The continental Swallowtail is a strong flier, more robust, lighter and slightly larger and can be seen in Europe from March to October. The larva feed on various plants especially Fennel and Rock Samphire - both of these plants occur in coastal Devon."

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He said that breeding  in Devon was a possibility in the future with an ever changing climate.

"I suspect there will be further migrant sightings in Sussex and Kent depending on weather conditions, where breeding has been recorded in the past, much to the excitement of Lepidopterist (butterfly followers). Only time will tell if this spectacular Butterfly will colonise in Southern England and become an established British resident specie" he said.