- swallowtail butterfly
Any of more than 500 species (genus Papilio, family Papilionidae) of butterflies found worldwide except in the Arctic.Some have tail-like extensions of the hind wing. Colour patterns vary with species, sex, season, and sometimes location (see tiger swallowtail). Most adults have yellow, orange, red, green, or blue markings on an iridescent black, blue, or green background. The brightly coloured larvae eat foliage. Some have markings resembling a snake's head, and many discharge a bad-smelling substance when disturbed. The giant swallowtail (P. cresphontes), with a wingspan of 4–5.5 in. (10–14 cm), is the largest butterfly in the U.S. and Canada.
* * *▪ insectany of a group of butterflies in the family Papilionidae (order Lepidoptera). The swallowtail butterflies (Papilio), found worldwide except in the Arctic, are named for the characteristic taillike extensions of the hindwings, although many species are tailless. Colour patterns may vary, although many species have yellow, orange, red, green, or blue markings on an iridescent black, blue, or green background. Sexual and seasonal differences in coloration also occur. Many swallowtails mimic the coloration and patterns of butterflies that are protected by a bad taste.The brightly coloured larvae feed on foliage. Black and yellow eyelike spots on the thorax of some larvae resemble the head of a snake. Many larvae have colour patterns that make them appear to be bird droppings. Many have scent glands and discharge a bad-smelling substance when disturbed.
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