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]

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

It includes the common yellow swallowtail (Papilio machaon), which is widespread in the Northern Hemisphere and the type species of the genus, as well as a number of other well-known North American species such as the western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus). Familiar species elsewhere in the world include the Mormons (Papilio polytes, Papilio polymnestor, Papilio memnon, and Papilio deiphobus) in Asia, 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 many 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 Rutaceae including common ornamental and agriculturally important species such as Citrus species, Murraya species, Choisya species and Calodendrum species. Caterpillars sequester terpenoids from their diet to produce a foul smelling oil used in defence.


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
Broad green-banded swallowtail (Papilio chrapkowskii), Kenya
Narrow blue-banded swallowtail (Papilio nireus), Uganda
species group: cynorta
species group: dardanus
African swallowtail (Papilio dardanus Ethiopia
Green-banded swallowtail (Papilio phorcas), Kenya
species group: zenobia
species group: demodocus
Citrus swallowtail (Papilio demodocus), South Africa
Lime butterfly (Papilio demoleus), India
species group: echerioides
species group: oribazus
Banded blue swallowtail (Papilio oribazus), Madagascar
species group: hesperus
species group: menestheus
Western emperor swallowtail (Papilio menestheus), Ghana
species group: incertae sedis
Papilio mangoura, Madagascar
species group: noblei
species group: demolion
species group: anactus
species group: aegeus
species group: godeffroyi
species group: polytes
Common Mormon (Papilio polytes), India
species group: castor
species group: fuscus
species group: helenus
species group: memnon
Blue Mormon Papilio polymnestor, India
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)
Common banded peacock (Papilio crino), India
species group: palinurus
species group: unnamed
species group: ulysses

subgenus: Heraclides Hübner, [1819]

species group: anchisiades
Prickly ash swallowtail (Papilio pelaus), Jamaica
species group: thoas
Bahamian swallowtail (Papilio andraemon), Jamaica
species group: torquatus
species group: unnamed

subgenus: Pterourus Scopoli, 1777

species group: troilus
Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
species group: glaucus
Canadian tiger swallowtail (Papilio canadensis), Canada
Two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata), Mexico
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. ^ Savela, Markku (March 20, 2019). "Papilio Linnaeus, 1758". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  4. ^ "Lepidopterists Discover New Swallowtail Species on Fiji | Biology |". Breaking Science News | Retrieved 2018-11-04.

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