Orchard Swallowtail - Male - Apr10

Orchard Swallowtail – Male

By: Michael Fox

Forty-six butterfly species are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve with a wide range of colours, sizes and behaviour.

I have been aware, for some time, of the different colours of the male and female Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus.

Orchard Swallowtail - Nov 08

Orchard Swallowtail – Female – laying eggs on lemon tree

Orchard Swallowtail butterflies are large  (male 102mm/female 108mm). However, the females are definitely the most attractive to see flitting around your citrus trees.

These beautiful butterflies are a wonderful addition to any backyard, so if you see some strange caterpillars on your citrus trees please check before you pull out the pest spray. The Orchard caterpillars will do very little damage to your trees before they metamorphosise into beautiful colourful butterflies.

Blue Tiger - male - 17 Oct 10

Blue Tiger – male – on Parsonsia leaf

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Identifying the sex of Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata butterflies is more difficult. It took a chance comment from Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, to make me even think to look for a way to identify males vs females. I had sent Helen a picture of a Blue Tiger in the winter sunlight. Helen emailed back commenting that the “male” butterfly would be collecting alkaloids from the Parsonsia leaf to make him more attractive to females.

Blue Tiger - female - 24 Aug 2013

Blue Tiger – female

Female Blue Tigers have a very similar patten of colours on their wings. When I asked how Helen identified a male butterfly just from a photo, she introduced me to butterfly “sex brands” which can be found on a number of butterfly species including Blue Tigers and Common Crows.

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Blue Tiger sex brand

Blue Tiger male sex brands circled

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The Blue Tiger males have distinctive sex brands on the hind wing.

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Common Crow - male - 10 Feb 2014 - on barbed wire vine

Common Crow – male.

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Common Crow - male - sex brand

Common Crow – male – sex brand

The Common Crow Euploea core male has a sex brand on the fore wing.

Now that I am aware of sex brands I will have to ensure all my photographs of mountain butterflies include this information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Michael Fox

I am always learning something new about our extraordinary local environment. Until recently I had never heard of Finger Lime Citrus australasica or any of the other native citrus.

Finger Lime surprise capsules

I discovered these fascinating plants when researching species for use in building Pollinator Links through our suburbs. Finger Limes are native to rainforests in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, where they typically grow as an understory plant.

White Chocolate Finger Lime Cheesecake

Finger Limes have come out of the rainforest and into commercial orchards growing in the full sun. Chris Bourke of Tamborine Native Citrus can supply Finger Limes grafted onto commercial citrus root stock which will promote rapid growth and produce smaller trees suited to backyards. Finger Limes can also be successfully grown in pots so even unit dwellers can join in the fun. What colour will you grow?

Orchard Swallowtail laying her eggs
Photographer – Jude Fox

The lime juice comes in tiny surprise packs that stay intact when cooked in a cheesecake, ready to explode in your mouth as you eat. If you would like to make your own bush tucker cheesecake you can find the recipe at Marvick Native Farms. Substitute Finger Lime for Desert Lime and of course use Queensland Nut Macadamia integrifolia instead of Hazelnuts. Don’t whiz all the limes. Fold some juice capsules into the mix before pouring into the cake tin.

Better still you can grow your own Finger Limes and bring beautiful Orchard Swallowtail butterflies to your backyard. Be patient with the butterfly caterpillars, they will do very little damage to your lime tree. Eating the citrus leaves allows the caterpillars store toxins that transfer through to the butterflies making them taste unpleasant to bird predators.


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Living on the edge of Mt Gravatt Reserve we often have butterflies visiting our yard. Today I videoed this Cabbage White Pieris rapae feeding on the Thyme flowers in our rose garden.

Michael Braby in Butterflies of Australia describes this erratic flight and feeding behaviour. This butterfly is using his proboscis or haustellum, a hollow straw-like tongue, to feed on nectar. The proposcis in normally kept rolled and extended for feeding.

Southside Community News - December 2011

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Our Pollinator Link initiative, described in my Southside News article, aims to bring more butterflies to suburban backyards.

If you have citrus trees you may find the leaves being eaten by the caterpillars of Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus butterflies.

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In Mt Gravatt Reserve the caterpillars of these spectacular butterflies feed on Crow’s Ash Flindersia australis. 

However if you can be put up with a few chewed leaves on your fruit trees these “bird-dropping” caterpillars

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will grow into this larger caterpillar

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which builds this delicate chrysalis suspended from a branch

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emerging as this spectacular Orchard Swallowtail butterfly we found in the garden this week.