North American Butterflies and Moths List

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The Registry of Nature Habitats

U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Texas

Three-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio pilumnus)

Three-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio pilumnus Boisduval)

Wing span: Not reported.

Identification: Upperside of both fore- and hindwings yellow with black basal band. Wings bordered by a black band with submarginal yellow stripe. Hindwing has 3 tails and 2 blue spots above the shortest tail.

Life history: None reported.

Flights: March-October in Mexico.

Caterpillar hosts: Leaves of Litsea tree in Lauraceae family.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Tropical woodlands.

Range: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador; rarely strays into southern Texas.

Conservation: Not required for tropical stray.

Management needs: None noted.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.


Beutelspacher, C. R. 1984. Mariposas de Mexico Fasciculo I. La Prensa Medica
     Mexicana, S. A. 171 pages, 20 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press,
     Stanford, Calif.  583 pages, 64 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Neck, R.W. 1996. A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas. Gulf Publishing Co., 
     Houston, Texas.

Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 
     Privately published, Denver, Colo. 

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.
Tveten, J. and Tveten, G.  1996.  Butterflies of Houston & Southeast Texas.
     Univ. of Texas Press, Austin, TX.  292 pp.
Three-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio pilumnus)
distribution map
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