The superfamily Papilionoidea contains all the butterflies except for the skippers, which are classified in superfamily Hesperioidea.
Some authors treat this grouping as a series (Papilioniformes) within a single superfamily that also includes the skippers. However, all are agreed that, although all the butterflies constitute a single monophyletic clade, a distinction needs to be made between the skippers and the rest of the butterflies. Compared with the skippers, in the families that are here counted within Papilionoidea:
- the body is smaller and less moth-like
- the wings are larger
- the antennae are straight and clubbed (rather than hooked as in the skippers)
- the caterpillars do not spin cocoons to pupate in
- the pupae are angular rather than rounded.
The families of Papilionoidea are:
- Swallowtails and Birdwings, Papilionidae
- Whites or Yellow-Whites, Pieridae
- Blues and Coppers or Gossamer-Winged Butterflies, Lycaenidae
- Metalmark butterflies, Riodinidae
- Snout butterflies, Libytheidae
- Brush-footed butterflies, Nymphalidae