Types of Swallowtail Butterflies

Black Swallowtail on Swamp Milkweed



There are about 33 types of Swallowtail Butterflies found in North America. The genus (family name) is Papilionidae. The most common and often seen Swallowtail Butterflies and where they are found include:

  • Eastern Tiger - E. North America from Ontario S. to Gulf Coast and W. to CO plains and central TX
  • Western Tiger - W. North America from B.C. S. to S. NM and Baja CA; E. to W. SD and S.E. CO A rare stray to central NE
  • Canadian Tiger - From central AK S.E. across Canada and the N. Great Lakes states to N. New England
  • Black - Most of the E. U.S., N. into Quebec, W. into S. Saskatchewan, CO and S.E. CA; S. to N. South America
  • Zebra - S. Eastern U. S. and Mexico
  • Anise - From British Columbia S.E. to ND, S. to S. CA, AZ, NM; Baja California; Mexico; a rare stray to central NE and E. North Dakota
  • Pipevine - Rare stray to Canada (s. Manitoba). Tropical lowlands S. to S. Mexico
  • Giant - Throughout E. North America W. to the Rocky Mountains, S. through the desert Southwest to South America; a rare stray to Quebec, ND, and Bermuda.
  • Spicebush - E. states from S. Canada to FL; W. to OK and central TX. Occasionally strays to North Dakota, central Colorado, and Cuba

Swallowtails are large, beautiful butterflies which have long tails like Swallows (bird). Their long tails supposedly look sort of like antennae, which confuse predators. This is why you might see Swallowtail with one or both tails missing.

Swallowtail eggs are round.


Swallowtail Caterpillars

Swallowtail caterpillars have a "forked gland" called the osmeterium. This looks like a snake's tongue and gives off a rancid odor...which scares off predators.

Swallowtail crysalis are green or brown depending to what it is attached.





The Swallowtail caterpillars spin a silk "button" to attach themselves, then a silk thread which acts as a "sling" or "girdle" to hold them in place.

All types of Swallowtail Butterflies in North America overwinter in the chrysalis stage.

Adult swallowtails feed on flower nectar. Caterpillars feed on a variety of plants.

If you are interested in learning about Raising Swallowtails click here.



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