The book includes a full revision of the Papilio machaon group, a subject very interesting for most lepidopterists.
From the foreword:
"The present volume, Papilionidae Part IV, the 26th of the series, has been the most time-consuming ever. It took almost three years to complete, and covers only ten species! This has been the most difficult achievement among the books so far published. The problem faced preparing such a difficult subject, as genus Karanasa in Satyrinae Part VI, was mainly the lack of material, both specimens and literature. With Papilionidae Part IV, whose main subject is the Papilio machaon-species group, we had the opposite problem: an overflow of revisions, new taxa and new taxonomic arrangements, which started since the beginning of the past century and is still going on nowadays.
The machaon-species group covers a wide geographical range through most of the Palearctic and the Nearctic regions and populates a variety of habitats ranging from subtropical forests to deserts, high mountains and cold arctic regions. These factors, almost unique among butterfly species, have given origin to an endless diversity of forms whose mutual systematic relationship is yet to be understood.
Papilio machaon is a great battleground for splitters vs. lumpers, both at intra-specific and at inter-specific levels. Within the co-authors' team, we have had many debates about the systematic arrangements to be adopted. Overall we have tried to take decisions supported by solid and well-supported elements, but not always such elements were fully convincing and for sure we have incurred mistakes and misinterpretations. Going through the abundant literature, we have found that many authors have kept a subspecies as valid without any comment or supporting element.
We do not pretend to have fully understood the puzzling systematics of the machaon-group, but, having taken into consideration and verified most of the different points of view on the subject, we hope that this book will be a good starting point for future investigations.
The complex nature of the machaon-species group, has suggested adopting a format somehow different from the previous volumes of the series, in order to better organize all the topics and to make them easily available to the reader. For instance, you'll find in the subspecies sections not only the diagnostic characters, but also the range and taxonomic notes related to that subspecies. This format is not going to become the new standard for the future volumes of the series."