Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies in the family Papilionidae.  The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies of the genus Ornithoptera.


Swallowtails have a number of distinctive features; for example, the papilionid caterpillar bears a repugnatorial organ called the osmeterium on its prothorax. The osmeterium normally remains hidden, but when threatened, the larva turns it outward through a transverse dorsal groove by inflating it with fluid.  The forked appearance of the swallowtails' hind wings, which can be seen when the butterfly is resting with its wings spread, gave rise to the common name swallowtail. As for its formal name, Linnaeus chose Papilio for the type genus, as Papilio is Latin for 'butterfly'.

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Kite Swallowtails

Tribe of swallowtail butterflies that includes the genera Arisbe , Graphium  and Lamproptera (Dragon tails). 

The antennae are clothed with scales.  Males, like those of Troidini, have a fold of scent scales on the hind margin of the hindwing.  Some adults have long tails, and the wings of some are zebra-striped.  They flap about a meter above ground with an interesting bobbing flight.  Adults do not migrate. 


Fluted Swallowtails

Tribe of swallowtail butterflies that includes the genera Achillides, Chilasa, Menelaides and Papilio.

The antennae are not scaled.  The male lacks a row of long hair-like sex-scales along the dorsum on the upperside.  The hind margin of the hindwing of males is bent downward (“fluted”),  unlike that in other Papilioninae.  The young larvae of many species and older larvae of some curiously resemble bird droppings.  Other larvae resemble miniature snakes, with eyes and an orange tongue-like osmeterium that pops out.  Adults are edible to birds.


Aristolochia Swallowtails

Large swallowtail butterflies. In the Troidini, the antennae are not scaled. Males generally have a fold of scent scales on the hind margin of the hind wing.  Most Troidini larvae feed on Aristolochia plants.  Because Aristolochia plants are poisonous to vertebrates, the Troidini are also poisonous and are often mimicked by other butterflies.  Adults flap about fairly swiftly.  Most species are non-migratory.

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Cite this page along with its URL as:

Badon, J. A. T., Lahom-Cristobal, L., & Talavera, A. A. (Chief Editors). 2013. Illustrated Lists of Philippine Butterflies. [updated 2019].

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