The common names of most Lepidoptera subfamilies are derived from the adults not the Caterpillars. Swallowtail refers to the posterior extensions on the hind wings of some species. Birdwing refers to the large wingspan of members of the Troides genus.
The butterflies of PAPILIONIDAE generally lay their eggs singly on the undersides of young leaves of the foodplants. The eggs are usually spherical and cream coloured.
The Caterpillars of this family are very highly evolved. They live in the open. Many when disturbed rear up on their prolegs, and briefly evert a brightly coloured pair of fleshy horns (the osmeterium) from the top of the junction of the head and the protothorax. Simultaneously they emit a strong smelly secretion. In addition the body is also protected by paired fleshy processes. These processes tend to conceal the head which is then less distinct, and so less vulnerable.
The Caterpillars pupate on the food plant, usually with an upright pupa resting on and secured at the bottom with a pad of silk and cremaster, and by a central girdle of silk.
The 18 Australian species in PAPILIONIDAE are:
: Red Bodied Swallowtail
Cressida cressida : Clearwing Swallowtail
Graphium agamemnon : Green Spotted Triangle
Graphium aristeus : Five Bar Swallowtail
Graphium eurypylus : Pale Green Triangle
Graphium macfarlanei : Green Triangle
Graphium macleayanus : Macleay's Swallowtail
Graphium sarpedon : Blue Triangle
: Orchard or Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly
Papilio ambrax : Ambrax Butterfly
Papilio anactus : Dainty Swallowtail
Papilio demoleus : Chequered Swallowtail
Papilio fuscus : Canopus Butterfly
Papilio ulysses : Ulysses Butterfly or Blue Emperor
Protographium leosthenes : Fourbar Swallowtail
Troides euphorion : Cairns Birdwing
Troides priamus : Cape York Birdwing
Troides richmondia : Richmond Birdwing
Frequently Asked Questions about Caterpillars
(updated 14 July 2010)