Family Papilionidae – Swallowtail and Parnassian Butterflies

Family Papilionidae – Swallowtails
Most North American members of this family are brightly colored butterflies with tailed hind wings.
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Checkered Swallowtail - Papilio demoleus
Checkered Swallowtail – Papilio demoleus

Family Papilionidae includes about 560 species worldwide; 33 of these live in North America [1]. Papilionidae is further subdivided into two subfamilies, Papilioninae and Parnassiinae. Most swallowtails are large, brightly colored or black butterflies with one or more tails on the hindwings, with a few exceptions having no tails at all, e.g. genus Parides [1].

Adult swallowtails frequent woodland edges and glades, weedy fields and gardens, just about anywhere there can be found open spaces and flowers. The eastern tiger swallowtail is particularly fond of sunflowers in all their wild varieties. Larval host plants include the family Rutaceae.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail
Tiger Swallowtail, black female
Tiger Swallowtail, black female
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
Pipevine Swallowtail

  1., "Family Papilionidae – Swallowtails, Parnassians"
  2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders (North America), Chanticleer Press 1980
  3. Eric Eaton & Ken Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Hillstar Editions 2007
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Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.
Learn to identify many of the American Midwest's common species through descriptions and large diagnostic photos of live, wild specimens.
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