A few New Mexico butterflies: Paplilionidae

(Swallowtail Butterflies)


The following photographs represent my chance encounters with butterflies. If you're looking for a systematic photographic survey, I recommend the Butterflies of New Mexico web site maintained by Joe Schelling. Joe has helped me with multiple IDs.


The images are organized alphabetically by taxonomic level. Unlike moths, virtually all butterflies all fall into a single superfamily, the Papilionoidea, so my taxonomic breakdown begins with a separate page for each family. (The other pages cover the Hesperiidae, Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae, and Pieridae.) The images below are organized by genus and species. When you encounter a slide show, hover your cursor over the images to control them. If you see an error, please contact me via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

Two-Tail Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

New Mexico hosts three similar-looking swallowtails with yellow wings: the anise, western tiger, and two-tailed.  These two-tailed swallowtails have a second, smaller tail inboard of the main one on each hindwing. (In one picture, red arrows point to the outer tails and green arrows point to the inner ones.) If the wings are worn, one or more of the tails may be missing. The wing stripes that are narrower than on western tigers. Two-tailed swallowtails can be seen all over Albuquerque, often as solitary individuals on the move.


Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

Compared to the Two-Tailed (above), the Western Tiger has no second "tail" inboard of the obvious one, and the forewing stripes are bolder.


Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The two photos from June 2019 were taken in low light, are so grainy, but they the black swallowtail's characteristic wing outlines. The photo from May 2022 shows the colors more clearly, but that butterfly has already lost its tails. The photo from July 2019 shows just how ragged and colorless the wings can become. Although the butterfly in that photo was no doubt near the end of its life, it was fluttering gamely along.