Swallowtail Butterflies (Family Papilionidae)
| Introduction |
Common midwest swallowtail butterflies:
More about Swallowtails
The butterfly family 'Papilionidae' includes over 500 species around the world, 30 species in
North America. They are big sized butterflies that tend to glide more while flying rather than
rapidly beating their wings.
Most Papilionidae butterflies are in the Papilioninae subfamily. Most of them also live in tropical areas, however 27 species live in North America. The birdwing butterflies, which are native to southeast Asian and northern Australia, are very large and beautiful members of this subfamily. Papilioninae is further broken down into 3 tribes: Papilionini, Troidini and Leptocircini.
Fluted Swallowtails - Tribe Papilionini
There are 21 species of this tribe in North America, around 200 worldwide.
Many of the caterpillars mimic bird droppings to confuse predators and some older
caterpillars have characteristics that resemble snakes, presumably to also confuse predators.
Aristolochia Swallowtails - Tribe Troidini
This tribe includes the large birdwing butterflies and has 136 species worldwide.
Only two are normally found in North America and a 3rd is a rare stray.
Battus polydamas (This species is only a rare stray where I live, so I have not seen one yet and do not have personal experience with it.)
Kite Swallowtails - Tribe Leptocircini
There 144 species in this tribe around the world, but only one in the United States - the
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus).
A couple others are rare strays into southern Florida and Texas, but are native to Cuba,
Central American and Mexico
Only three species of Parnassians are found in N. America (in western mountains), the rest are in Eurasia - around 50 species in total.)
There is only one species in this subfamily and it lives in Southern Mexico.
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