Crimson Rose Atrophaneura Hector
Swallowtail butterflies are one of the most beautiful of all butterflies and includes the incredible birdwings among their 550 species. They take their name from the the “forked tail” that some of them have on their hind wings. It is almost impossible to narrow down the most beautiful butterflies and even the swallowtails are difficult but we have given it an attempt. The top 16 are below.
Image: masaki ikeda
16. Asian Swallowtail
The Asian swallowtail is common throughout Asia and this image is a terrific example of its beauty. As you can see, it has black borders but on the hind wings there is an area of “blue eyeshadow” and some orange scales. The yellow is muted and that works perfectly against the other colors.
15. Ornithoptera priamus miokensis
This subspecies of birdwing is generally found in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, east of New Guinea. It is rare and some scientists believe it is actually a hybrid of a common birdwing and another butterfly native to Bougainville.
14. Macleay’s Swallowtail
This beauty is found in Australia and is the only swallowtail to be found on the island of Tasmania.
Image: Paul Takamoto
13. Giant Swallowtail
The giant swallowtail is the largest in Canada and the United States. It has a wing span as wide as 6.3 inches at its biggest and is considered a major pest in the citrus orchards.
This unmistakable swallowtail is extremely rare and native to Nepal, Bhutan and India but is only found in small pockets. Listed as near threatened, it is hunted for collectors around the world.
Image: takato marui
11. The Chinese Peacock
This beauty has iridescent hind wings in shades of blues and reds and is a mid size butterfly. It lives in the forests of Japan, China, Korea and parts of East Russia.
Image: Jon Sullivan
10. The Scarce Swallowtail
This lovely creature is found all over Europe and loves orchards. It is protected by law in some parts of Europe due to habitat destruction.
9. Giant Blue Swallowtail
Rather than producing its iridescence via the traditional method, the scales on this gorgeous swallowtail have a florescent blue pigment in them.
8. Golden Birdwing
Possessing black forewings with yellow hindwings and a yellow/black spotted body, this beauty is found throughout Asia.
Image: Joe Mabel
7. Purple Spotted Swallowtail
This unusual coloring belongs to a swallowtail found only in Papua New Guinea.
6. The Spangle
This gorgeous butterfly enjoys mud puddling with friends. It is indigo blue to black with bluish and red tonal marks.
5. Wallace’s Golden Birdwing
This beauty is found exclusively east of Australasia and is listed as endangered on the IUCN red list.
4. Ornithoptera chimaera
This strictly protected butterfly is found high in the mountains of Java and New Guinea. A species of birdwing, its colors are like an impressionist’s painting.
3. Papilio Blumei
With its iridescent green bands and the strong “swallow tail” this is one of the most striking of all the butterflies. Also called the Peacock butterfly, it is only found on the island of Sulawesi.
2. Pipevine Swallowtail
Found in North and Central America, this amazing butterfly is poisonous and imparts a poisonous quality to its larva. There are also two other species which mimic it.
1. Crimson Rose
One of the most gorgeous of all butterflies, the crimson rose is found in India. It is poisonous and rarely attacked by predators, while other species have mimicked it to gain the safety of its coloration.
These 16 butterflies are only a few of the incredible beauties in butterfly land; of course they all are swallowtails and other families have their own stars, but this is the cream of the crop of the papilionidae.