Skippers, Whites and Swallowtail Butterflies

This photo album comprises three butterfly galleries of families placed in the superfamily Papilionoidea part of Lepidoptera (Butterflies, Moths). The first features Skippers (Hesperiidae), the second Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) and the third Swallowtail (Papilionidae). I photographed the displayed species in their natural habitat. See Taxonomy note at the end of this page.



Skipper Notes

Skippers (Hesperiidae) are small to medium-sized butterflies, mostly dullish brown or grey. They have short wings, a large head, stocky body, and widely separated antennae often clubbed, terminating in a backward short, pointed hook. They are known as skippers or darters because of their quick, darting flight. The family has a worldwide distribution, except New Zealand, with the greatest diversity in Neotropical regions. As their larvae generally feed on grass, their habitat includes meadows, edges of woods, and many other habitats. Females are often larger than males.

Whites and Sulphurs

Whites and Sulphurs Notes

Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) are a family of small to medium-sized butterflies that are predominantly white or yellow, often with black spots. The family has three fully developed walking legs, often with slender bodies and a small and straight club. They have a worldwide distribution; most are tropical species. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males and females often having different markings. Furthermore, they feed on leafy vegetation, including herbs and vegetables and found in meadows, open areas, rarely in a forest.


Swallowtail Notes

Swallowtail (Papilionidae) are medium to large size butterflies that are frequently brightly coloured. Most have hind wings that extend into tails at the back edge of their wings. All their legs are functional. Adults often have black or black with yellow/white wings, and some species have additional blue or red markings. Distribution is widespread but mostly in tropical regions. Swallowtail habitat includes open areas such as fields, meadows, open forest, sides of streams, especially where there are abundant flowers.

Skippers, Whites and Swallowtail Butterfly Taxonomy

The Insects Photo Album webpage describes the higher-level taxonomy for the featured Skippers (Hesperiidae), Whites (Pieridae) and Swallowtail (Papilionidae) butterfly families placed in Papilionoidea part of Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths).

The estimate for described butterfly species is between 17,000 to 19,000, and fossil records place them in the Cretaceous period.

Skippers, Whites and Swallowtail butterflies are three large groups with around 5,000 species and are probably the most recent families, in evolutionary terms, which feature in the Lepidoptera photo albums:

(1) Skippers (Hesperiidae) contain at least 3,500 species placed in four to eight subfamilies, photos from the following two features:
(a) Pyrginae (Spread-winged Skipper),
(b) Hesperiinae (Grass Skippers).

(2) Whites (Pieridae) comprise three subfamilies with over 1,100 species and photos from two features in the gallery:
(a) Coliadinae (Sulphurs),
(b) Pierinae (Whites).

(3) Swallowtail (Papilionidae) comprise two subfamilies with around 500 species, and the gallery displays images of Papilioninae (Swallowtails).

Traditionally Papilionoidea (True Butterflies) comprise five families with skippers (Hesperiidae) placed in Hesperides, a separate superfamily. However, recent taxonomy has moved Hesperides to Papilionoidea. Skippers are an intermediate form between butterflies and moths.