Monday, March 24, 2014


CLASS: Insecta;    ORDER: Lepidoptera;    FAMILY: Papillionidae;    GENUS: Papillo;
SPECIES: aegeus;    COMMON NAME: Orchard Swallowtail.

Both male and female have black forewings with a white stripe, though there is more white overall on the female forewing.  The hindwing is again black, and there is a white swathe through the middle. Here the markings differ in that the female has chains of red to orange and blue crescents toward the edge.  The markings on the underside are similar to those on top.  The body is black.  The wing-span is about 140mm in females and 120mm in males, making it rather large overall and the largest butterfly commonly seen in at least part of its range.

Despite being a swallowtail, which group derives its name from the distincive tails on the hindwing, this characteristic is entirely absent.

A male orchard swallowtail in the Melbourne Zoo (Victoria):

A female in Lamington National Park in SE Queensland.

They inhabit lowland rainforest, dry eucalypt woodland, gardens and orchards and can be found in every state in Australia except Tasmania and Western Australia but it is generally found in eastern Australia.  It is especially common in Queensland and is the largest butterfly commonly found in Brisbane where there are many citrus trees, on which the larvae feed.  During summer, the distribution is temporarily extended down to Victoria.   It is also found in Papua New Guinea.

This butterfly feeds on a large range of food plants including citrus, boronia and Murraya.  They have a wingspan of 105mm.  The larvae of this species are sometimes considered a pest, due to their feeding on citrus leaves in suburban gardens.

This is the caterpillar of the orchard swallowtail.

Illustration of adult orchard swallowtails:


  1. Beautiful things - and we do (occasionally) get them here too. Thanks Mimsie. Are you getting any rain yet? Our weather boffins have been predicting showers every day for over a week and today, finally, we have got some.

  2. Of course we don't see them here which is perhaps as well for citrus growers.
    No rain at our place at all but a few suburbs had light showers. The weather boffins keep predicting thunderstroms and although there have been some in other areas they brought little rain. Now all the cloud out in the Indian Ocean is hampering the search for that missing aeroplane which is a great pity.
    I noticed on the weather chart on ABC24 today that Canberra was due for quite a lot of rain so hope you garden (and you) will enjoy it.
    I am just so over this hot weather and even though they forecast 24ºC for next Sunday I'll believe it when it happens.

    1. The above was supposedly a reply and NOT a comment. I don't know why this happens at times even though I did click on Reply.

  3. They're so beautiful aren't they? I remember seeing these years ago when I lived in Brisbane. I've never seen them since then. I particularly like the markings on the females.

  4. Hari OM
    Oh yes, I had lots of these in my garden in Sydney...sigh. I look forward to seeing fluttery things here. Eventually... YAM xx