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Biodiversity is the concentration of life and its components, involving millions of species on planet earth. The growing concern over threat to the global biodiversity from habitat destruction and global warming has led a realization about the importance of conservation of biodiversity. Insects form an important component of our biodiversity. They out number all other animals in terms number of species. Amongst insects, butterflies especially Swallowtails have a unique role to play in conservation of biodiversity. Being delicate, butterflies are highly affected by any change in the environment and are thus effectively acting as bioindicators to know the real health of a habitat, followed by the conservation. Swallowtails belonging to family Papilionidae, have five hundred and seventy three species all over the world Collins and Morris 1985, new and Collins, 1991). Out of these, ninety four species belong to Indian subcontinent (Wynter-Blyth 1957). They are highly spectacular and magnificent of all insects, even among the butterflies. The swallowtails though have a unique place in biodiversity yet there is as dubious distinction of their being highly exploited and illegally for trade purpose.
The swallowtails of the subfamily Parnassinae is a group of essentially Palaearctic butterflies. They are predominantly present in alpine and subalpine areas. In the world this subfamily is represented by three tribes, eight genera and 75 species plate -I, fig-1) whereas in Indian region by two tribes, three genera and fifteen species and in India by two tribes, two genera and twelve species (plate-I, fig-2). In India this subfamily is represented only in high altitude areas of Himalayas. Most of the species arte highly endemic in nature and inhabits in isolated pockets of Himalayas. Infact this group of butterflies is most affected by global warming, melting of glaciers and the change in habitat of fragile ecosystems in which they dwell. The Parnassinae butterflies are most sought by the traders and are sold at very high prices. The subfamily Parnassinae of India has been studied by Evans 1932, Talbot 1939, Wynter blyth 1957 and Mani 1986 and it contains 12 species, of which nine five in Schedule I part IV and four in Schedule II part II are included in Indian Wildlife protection Act, 1972 amended up to 1991.
1. Taxonomic background
3. Phylogeny of subfamily parnassinae