Papilio anchisiades

Geographic Range

Papilio anchisiades can be found from south Texas, USA to Argentina, but have also been reported in Kansas, southeast Arizona, and west Texas in the United States. (Carter, 1992; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001)


Papilio anchisiades live in a variety of habitats. The habitats range from tropical rainforests to cultivated land to citrus groves and gardens. (Carter, 1992; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001)

Physical Description

Papilio anchisiades are large and mostly black with a wingspan of 7-10 cm. Unlike most swallowtails, ruby-spotted swallowtails lack tails on their hindwings. Their most distinctive characteristics are pink, ruby, or purplish spots on the hindwings. Females can be detected by a diffuse white patch on the upper forewing. In the early stages, the caterpillars are green and brown with white markings and bulges on their backs. The pupae are light-brown in color with ligh green spots, and are thicker in their anterior portion. (Carter, 1992; Holland, 1907; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001; Scott, 1986)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range wingspan
    7 to 10 cm
    2.76 to 3.94 in


Papilio anchisiades go through four life stages (egg, caterpillar, Chrysalis (pupa), adult (butterfly)).


Female Papilio anchisiades lay their eggs in groups on host plant leaves. The most common host plants for ruby-spotted swallowtails are Citrus limon and Casimiroa edulis in Mexico. The female butterflies usually mate several times in their life time, and release many eggs each time. (Scott, 1986; Toole, 1986)


During reproduction and in the caterpillar stages of life, Papilio anchisiades is social. The females lay eggs on plant leaves in groups, and caterpillars lay on leaves in clusters during the day and feed at night. They also molt together. The caterpillars are equipped with special scent organs that spray an odor to ward off predators when alarmed. Ruby-spotted swallowtails take several flights during May and October, and their flight patterns are diurnal. (Carter, 1992; Forestiero and Sbordoni, 1998; Holland, 1907; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001)

Communication and Perception

Papilio anchisades spray a warning chemical to ward off predators.

Food Habits

As caterpillars, ruby-spotted swallowtails feed on citrus trees such as Citrus, Casimiroa, Zanthoxylum, and as adults, they use their proboscis to feed on flower nectar. (Carter, 1992; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • nectar

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Ruby-spotted swallowtails do not have a profound affect on humans except that it is a favorite of butterfly collectors and owners of gardens because of their beauty. (Carter, 1992)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

As far as scientists know there are no negative affects on humans by these butterflies. (Carter, 1992)

Conservation Status

Papilio anchisiades has a stable population throughout its main habitats, however in some parts of the U.S., like Arizona and Kansas, this species is considered rare. (Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001)

Other Comments

The Ruby-spotted swallowtail is a popular butterfly to raise, and is often seen in flower gardens. This species is usually part of many butterfly collections. (Carter, David 1992)


Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Nicole Buehler (author), Southwestern University, Stephanie Fabritius (editor), Southwestern University.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


Carter, J. 1992. Butterflies and Moths. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.

Forestiero, S., V. Sbordoni. 1998. Butterflies of the World. Buffalo: Firefly Books Ltd..

Holland, W. 1907. The Butterfly Book. New York: Doubleday, Page and Company.

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 2001. "Butterflies of North America" (On-line). Accessed 4/10/01 at

Scott, J. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Toole, C. 1986. The Encyclopedia of Insects. New York: Facts on File Inc..