Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Type species:||Papilio machaon|
The swallowtail butterflies form the family Papilionidae. These are large, colourful butterflies. There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies of Australasia (genus Troides).
Swallowtails differ from all other butterflies in a number of anatomical traits. Most notably, their caterpillars possess a unique organ behind their heads, called the osmeterium. Normally hidden, this forked structure can be everted when the caterpillar is threatened, and used to emit a foul-smelling secretion containing terpenes.
The genera of extant swallowtails are usually classified into three subfamilies, Baroniinae, Parnassiinae and Papilioninae, the latter two being further divided into tribes. An additional subfamily Praepapilioninae, has a single extinct member, known only from a single fossil.
- Anise Swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon
- Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes
- Clouded apollo, Parnassius mnemosyne
- Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus
- Spicebush Swallowtail, Papilio troilus
- Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus
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