Papilio polyxenes, male, ‘Red Hill,’ Purcell, McClain County, Oklahoma, 5 April 2006
Papilio polyxenes Fabricius, 1775
Tribe Papilionini, Fluted Swallowtails
There are about 600 species within the family Papilionidae. The family is made up
of 3 subfamilies, the Parnassiinae, which has about 50 species of Parnassians and
Apollos that are found mostly in the montane regions of the nothern hemisphere, the
Baroniinae, which has only 1 species, Baronia brevicomis from western Mexico, and
the Papilioninae, which has about 550 species found worldwide. The subfamily Papilioninae
is further divided into 4 tribes, the Teinopalpini, which include 2 species from
the Himalayas, the Troidini, which has about 130 worldwide species including the
birdwings, the Leptocircini, which has about 140 species and includes kite Swallowtails,
and the Papilionini, which has over 200 worldwide species and includes the fluted
swallowtails in which Papilio polyxenes belongs to.
Papilio polyxenes, female, ‘Red Hill,’ Purcell, McClain County, Oklahoma, 14 March
Papilio polyxenes is one of the most recognized butterflies in the United States.
It is found throughout the eastern half of the U.S. in open habitats. It is a common
garden visitor and can be readily attracted by planting dill or fennel, which are
larval food sources. These butterflies are known to be ‘hilltoppers.’ Females are
Batesian mimics of the Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor.
Larval hostplants include plants in the carrot and parsley family, the common ones
being Queen Ann’s Lace, fennel, cultivated carrot, celery, dill and parsley. Immature
larvae look like a bird dropping. Larvae have orange eversible organs called osmeteria
that are used to chemically deter predators.
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