The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Small Striped Swordtail butterfly

Afrikaans name: Ooskus-swaardstert

Small Striped Swordtail butterfly

Photo © Steven Herbert

Graphium policenes policenes

The Small Striped Swordtail can have a wingspan of up to 6.5 cm while the Large Striped Swordtail reaches 7.5 cm. This is not a good feature to separate these two species. An easier way is to look at the turquoise bands in the forewing. Those of the Small Striped Butterfly are straight and not wavy.

Male and female have similar colouration, but the female is a bit bigger. The Small Striped Swordtail is a fast flyer and not easy to get near to. Males often congregate in large numbers at muddy puddles. Interestingly they all face into the wind whilst at a puddle. The water typically has minerals dissolved in it which is what the butterfly is after.

In South Africa its distribution is restricted to the eastern regions from around Port St. Johns to northern KwaZulu-Natal. It favours wooded regions such as coastal forest where it may be seen along the forest edge. They are normally on the wing during the warmer months with some still around in May.

References and further reading

Familiar South African Butterflies - Author: Clive Quickelberge - Published: 1986 - Page: 53

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - 1st edition - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2005 - Page: 356

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2020 - Page: 376

Gardening for Butterflies - Author: Steve Woodhall & Lindsay Gray - Published: 2015 - Page: 100

Ivor Migdolls Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Africa - Author: Ivor Migdoll - Published: 1987 - Page: 238

Living Butterflies of Southern Africa - Volume 1 - Author: G.A. Henning et al - Published: 1997 - Page: 244


Got a comment about the content on this page?

This website features affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you purchase through these links.

Copyright Steven Herbert Projects, 2013 - 2023. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy - FAQ - Terms of use