16 Beautiful Swallowtail Butterflies

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.

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.


Image: Anaxibia

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.

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Image: Aviceda

14. Macleay’s Swallowtail

This beauty is found in Australia and is the only swallowtail to be found on the island of Tasmania.

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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.


Image: Anaxibia

12. Kaiser-i-Hind

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.

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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.

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.

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Image: Anaxibia

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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.


Image: Steve

8. Golden Birdwing

Possessing black forewings with yellow hindwings and a yellow/black spotted body, this beauty is found throughout Asia.

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Image: Joe Mabel

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7. Purple Spotted Swallowtail

This unusual coloring belongs to a swallowtail found only in Papua New Guinea.


Image: BrianAdler

6. The Spangle

This gorgeous butterfly enjoys mud puddling with friends. It is indigo blue to black with bluish and red tonal marks.

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Image: Anaxibia

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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.

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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.


Image: Kaldari

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.

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Image: J.M.Garg

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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.

Sources: 1 2

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