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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]

Now included in the genus Papilio, are the former genera: Achillides, Eleppone, Druryia, Heraclides (giant swallowtails), Menelaides, Princeps, Pterourus (tiger swallowtails), and 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)
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) in Ontario, Canada
Papilio ulysses caterpillar
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

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

species group: machaon

subgenus: Princeps Hübner, [1807]

species group: antimachus
species group: zalmoxis
species group: nireus
species group: cynorta
species group: dardanus
species group: zenobia
species group: demodocus
species group: echerioides
species group: oribazus
species group: hesperus
species group: menestheus
species group: incertae sedis
species group: demolion
species group: anactus
species group: aegeus
species group: godeffroyi
species group: polytes
species group: castor
species group: fuscus
species group: helenus
species group: memnon
species group: protenor
species group: bootes

subgenus: Chilasa Moore, [1881]

species group: agestor
species group: clytia
species group: veiovis
species group: laglaizei
species group: unnamed

subgenus: Achillides Hübner, [1819]

species group: paris
Malabar Banded Peacock (Papilio buddha)
species group: palinurus
species group: unnamed
species group: ulysses

subgenus: Heraclides Hübner, [1819]

species group: anchisiades
species group: thoas
species group: torquatus
species group: unnamed

subgenus: Pterourus Scopoli, 1777

species group: troilus
species group: glaucus
species group: zagreus
species group: scamander
species group: homerus

subgenus: Sinoprinceps Hancock, 1983

species group: xuthus 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,

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