Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilionidae)
|Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilionidae)
Types of Butterflies
The family Papilionidae, better known as Parnassian and Swallowtail butterflies, are large butterflies, characterized by extended tail-like appendages at the bottom of their wings.
Papilionidae divide into two subfamilies, Parnassiinae, Papilioninae.
Parnassians a wide ranging subfamily, fly over over much of the northern hemisphere. Five recognized North American species.
Most species share some physical characteristics. The majority have white color wings highlighted by black and/or red markings. Their wings are semi-translucent, and contrary to swallowtail butterfly trends, their wings are often tailless.
The Clodius Parnassian (Parnassius clodius) in the top picture lives in the Pacific Northwest and nothern part of the Rocky Mountains.
They are generally a mid-summer species, and can be found in abundance in many areas.
Most people associate the approximately forty Swallowtail (Papilioninae) species with native North AMerican swallowtails.
While Papilioniae divide into number genera, almost two-thirds of the species belong to the Papilio genus.
The Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) gets its name from the caterpillar's larval food, plants in the pipevine family (Aristolochiaceae).
Native plants grow primarily in southern areas, making the Pipevine Swallowtail a southern butterfly with a presence on both the East and West Coasts.
The underside of the butterfly's wings are more distinctive than the top side of its wings.
The orange spots, shown in the bottom picture, make it an easily identifiable species.
The Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar feeds on plants in the dutchman's pipe family.
One look at the Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) explains its name. The black and white stripes on the wings make it the most zebra-like looking butterfly in the United States.
Eurytides species are also known as kite swallowtails due to the extended length of their tails. Number of Eurytide species in U.S.
Zebra Swallowtails are an East Coast species whose larvae eat leaves from pawpaw plants.
They can be found almost year round in their southern end of their range, and are an abundant Florida swallowtail species.
Finding swallowtails can be an easy task in the southern most areas of the United States. Close to one-half of all swallowtail species can be found, sometimes only occasionally, in South Texas and South Florida.
The remaining swallowtail species also have a limited geographical range, and therefore the number of species present in any area usually counts less than ten.
© 2009-2011 Patricia A. Michaels