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Schwalbenschwanz papilio machaon.jpg
Papilio machaon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Subfamily: Papilioninae
Tribe: Papilionini
Genus: Papilio
Linnaeus, 1758
Papilio Species

see text

Papilio is a genus in the swallowtail butterfly family, Papilionidae, as well as the only representative of the tribe Papilionini. The word papilio is Latin for butterfly.[1]

The genus includes a number of well-known North American species such as the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus). Familiar species in Asia include the Mormons (Papilio polytes, Papilio polymnestor, Papilio memnon, and Papilio deiphobus), the Orchard and Ulysses Swallowtails in Australia (Papilio aegeus, Papilio ulysses, respectively) and the Citrus Swallowtail of Africa (Papilio demodocus).

Older classifications of the swallowtails tended to use a large number of rather small genera. More recent classifications have been more conservative, and as a result a number of former genera are now absorbed within Papilio. The genus as recognized by modern systems has about 200 members. The genus Chilasa is regarded as a subgenus of Papilio by some workers, as are the Baggy-tailed Swallowtails (Agehana), although the latter taxon is usually considered a subgenus of Chilasa.

Many of the larvae resemble bird droppings during a development stage. Adults are edible to birds and some species are mimics.[2]

Former genera now merged with Papilio:

  • Achillides
  • Eleppone
  • Druryia
  • Heraclides (giant swallowtails)
  • Menelaides
  • Princeps
  • Pterourus (tiger swallowtails)
  • Sinoprinceps


In their laval form, members of Papilio typically feed upon plants of the Rutaceae including common ornamental and agriculturally important species such as Citrus spp., Murraya spp., Choisya spp. and Calodendrum spp. Caterpillars sequester terpenoids from their diet to produce a foul smelling oil used in defence.


Papilio polyxenes caterpillar on fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
African Swallowtail (Papilio dardanus), chrysalis
Citrus Swallowtail (Papilio demodocus)
Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus) in Bangalore, India
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) in Ontario, Canada
Papilio ulysses caterpillar
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Listed alphabetically within groups.[3]
Subgenus Papilio Linnaeus, 1758:

  • The machaon species-group:

Subgenus Princeps Hübner, [1807]:

  • The antimachus species-group:
  • The zalmoxis species-group:
  • The anactus species-group:

Subgenus Chilasa Moore, [1881]

Subgenus Achillides Hübner, [1819]:

Malabar Banded Peacock (Papilio buddha)

Subgenus Heraclides Hübner, [1819]:

Subgenus Pterourus Scopoli, 1777:

  • The troilus species-group:

Subgenus Sinoprinceps Hancock, 1983:

  • The xuthus species-group Hancock, 1983:
    • Papilio xuthus Linnaeus, 1767 – Asian, Xuthus, or Chinese Yellow Swallowtail


  1. ^ Fabales. (2009) In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 September 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: [1]
  2. ^ The Butterflies of North America, James A. Scott, ISBN 0-8047-1205-0, 1986
  3. ^ Papilio,

External links[edit]