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The imago typically has yellow wings with black vein markings, and a wingspan of 65–86 millimetres (2.6–3.4 in).The hind wings of both sexes have a pair of protruding tails which give the butterfly its common name from the resemblance to the birds of the same name. Just below each tail is a red eye spot. The butterfly has a strong and fast flight, but frequently pauses to hover over flowering herbs and sip nectar.