List of butterflies of India (Papilionidae)

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Three Indian swallowtails mud-puddling:
blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor), common Mormon (Papilio polytes) and common bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon). (left to right anticlockwise)
Great Mormon (Papilio memnon) is a species of swallowtail butterfly found in South Asia
Malabar banded swallowtail (Papilio liomedon) a species of the coastal forests

This is a list of the butterflies of family Papilionidae, or the swallowtails, which are found in India. This family of large and beautiful butterflies is well represented with about 84 species found within Indian borders, the exact number depending on the taxonomy followed.[1][2]

Two of the three papilionid subfamilies are represented in India, namely, the Parnassiinae or Apollos, with 14 species, and the Papilioninae or swallowtails, with 70 species.

Diversity of Indian swallowtails[edit]

Indian swallowtails are found almost everywhere in the country. The Malabar banded peacock (Papilio buddha) and the Malabar banded swallowtail (Papilio liomedon) fly at sea level while the Apollos (Parnassius species), are to be found only in the highest alpine meadows of the Himalayas. Some species such as the common Mormon (Papilio polytes) and the blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor) fly at ground level whereas others, such as the tailed jay (Graphium agamemnon) are normally found flying high in the forest canopy. The lime butterfly (Papilio demoleus) is a creature of arid scrub-land, occasionally being spotted even in the Thar Desert, while the tropical evergreen forests have their own representatives, such as the red Helen (Papilio helenus), the common bluebottle (Graphium cloanthus) and the Malabar raven (Papilio dravidarum).[3] Indian papilionids such as the common Mormon (Papilio polytes) and great Mormon (Papilio memnon) show polymorphism with many mimetic female forms.[4][5]

While spread over all the biogeographic zones of India, amongst swallowtails, endemism is found only in the Western Ghats. Notable endemics are the southern birdwing (Troides minos), Malabar banded swallowtail (Papilio liomedon), Malabar raven (Papilio dravidarum), Malabar rose (Pachliopta pandiyana) and the Malabar banded peacock (Papilio buddha).[6]


Common blue Apollo (Parnassius hardwickii)
Common red Apollo (Parnassius epaphus)
Bhutan glory (Bhutanitis lidderdalii)

The subgenus, where applicable, is given as an additional epithet in parentheses in between the genus and species epithets in the scientific name.

Subfamily Parnassiinae[edit]

The Apollos, Parnassius are different in appearance from other swallowtails, being of moderate size, with white ground colour, spotted with red, black and blue.

Tribe Zerynthiini[edit]

Bhutanitis - Bhutan glory[edit]

Tribe Parnasiini[edit]

Parnassius - Apollos[edit]

Subfamily Papilioninae[edit]

Kaiser-e-Hind (Teinopalpus imperialis)
Spot swordtail (Pathysa nomius)
White dragontail (Lamproptera curius)
Glassy bluebottle (Graphium cloanthus)
Andaman clubtail (Losaria rhodifer)
Crimson rose (Pachliopta hector)
Southern birdwing (Troides minos)
Great blue mime (Papilio paradoxus)
Malabar raven (Papilio dravidarum)
Krishna peacock (Papilio krishna)

The swallowtails are generally easily identified in the field by their large size, prominent markings, colour, patterns and variable wing and tail shape.

Tribe Troidini[edit]

Losaria (formerly Atrophaneura) - clubtails[edit]

Pachliopta (formerly Atrophaneura) - roses[edit]

Troides - birdwings[edit]

Atrophaneura (Atrophaneura) - red-bodied swallowtails[edit]

Byasa (formerly Atrophaneura) - windmills[edit]

Tribe Papilionini[edit]

Tribe Leptocircini[edit]

Lamproptera - dragontails[edit]

Graphium (Graphium) - bluebottles and jays[edit]

Graphium (Paranticopsis) - zebras[edit]

Graphium (Pathysa) - swordtails[edit]

Graphium (Pazala) - swordtails[edit]

Tribe Teinopalpini[edit]

Meandrusa - hooked swallowtails[edit]

Teinopalpus - Kaiser-e-Hind[edit]

See also[edit]

Cited references[edit]

  1. ^ Evans (1932) states, in a table on pg 23, the number of papilionids in the Indian subcontinent as 90; 15 species being found in Ceylon, 19 in South India, 6 in Baluchistan, 11 in Chitral, 31 in the Western Himalayas, 69 in Northeast India, 50 in Southern Burma and 13 in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Wynter-Blyth (1957) gives a modified version of the same table on p. 12, where the overall number of species is 94; with differences being in total number of species for Northeast Himalayas (62) and Burma (66). The present list is based on the IUCN red data book, with corrections made by subsequent editors especially in the Parnassiinae.
  2. ^ Kunte (2000) on p. 55 mentions a total of 107 species with 19 in peninsular India.
  3. ^ Kunte, Krushnamegh (2000). Butterflies of Peninsular India. India, A Lifescape. Hyderabad, India: Universities Press. pp. 55–58, chapter 5.1. ISBN 978-8173713545. 
  4. ^ Clarke, C.A.; Sheppard, P.M. & Thornton, I.W.B. The Genetics of the Mimetic Butterfly Papilio memnon L. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London. (B - Biological Sciences) 22 August 1968 vol. 254 no. 791 37-89. Abstract. Accessed on 20 Jan 2010.
  5. ^ Clarke, C.A. & Sheppard, P.M. The Genetics of the Mimetic Butterfly Papilio polytes L. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London. (Series B, Biological Sciences) Vol. 263, No. 855 (16 Mar. 1972), pp. 431-458. Abstract. Accessed on 20 Jan 2010.
  6. ^ Kehimkar, Isaac (2009). The Book of Indian Butterflies. Mumbai: Bombay Natural History Society. p. 38; 497. ISBN 978-0-19-569620-2. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Scientific names all corrected as per Häuser, Christoph L.; de Jong, Rienk; Lamas, Gerardo; Robbins, Robert K.; Smith, Campbell; Vane-Wright, Richard I. (28 July 2005). "Papilionidae – revised GloBIS/GART species checklist (2nd draft)". Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  8. ^ White, A. (1842): Notice of two New Species of Papilio from Penang, presented to the British Museum by Sir Wm. Norris. - The Entomologist 1 (17), pp. 280.[1].


Woodcut of red Helen (Papilio helenus) from C. T. Bingham's The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma volume on butterflies