A rare and spectacular butterfly may be attempting to colonise the UK after sightings in Dorset.

Continental Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio machaon gorganus) have been seen in the last few weeks after successfully overwintering in the UK.

The UK’s relatively cold climate makes it difficult for the butterfly to survive the winter but the recent emergence of adults suggests last year’s breeding was successful.

The butterfly resembles a tropical species with dramatic yellow and black markings and distinctive streamer-shaped tail.

The UK boasts its own subspecies of Swallowtail, Papilio machaon britannicus, which despite being our largest native species is smaller and darker than the continental butterfly and is now restricted to the Norfolk Broads.

The warming climate raises the possibility that the striking Continental Swallowtail may potentially become a UK resident in the near future.