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Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus)

Orchard Swallowtail
Female. (Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary, QLD)

Appearance: Very large. Males mainly black with a row of white markings on the fore wing, an extended, white patch on the upperside of the hind wing, and numerous red and blue markings on the hind wing underside. Females with more extended white areas and numerous red and blue markings on both sides of the hind wing. Similar to the Ambrax Swallowtail (Papilio ambrax) and the Red-bodied Swallowtail (Pachliopta polydorus).
Wingspan: 10–11 cm
Season: Several generations; all around the year in the north, from spring until autumn in the south.
Range: Common and widespread across eastern Australia from Cape York through eastern QLD, eastern NSW, the ACT, and far eastern VIC. Less common and very local in central and western QLD, NT, central and western VIC, and SA. Not in WA and TAS.
Habitat: Wide variety of habitats; mainly forest and woodland, but also citrus orchards, suburban gardens and parks.

Description

The Orchard Swallowtail is a very common species throughout eastern Australia, and its sheer size makes it a very impressive sight. Most of the time, the butterflies slowly fly through the vegetation and hardly ever settle. When they rest on branches or leaves, they sit with their wings wide open but are very alert and extremely hard to approach.

In the tropical regions of north-eastern QLD there are two rather similar species, the Ambrax Swallowtail (Papilio ambrax) and the Red-bodied Swallowtail (Pachliopta polydorus). Both, however, are somewhat smaller and lack the blue markings on the hind wings. In addition, Orchard Swallowtail males have a characteristic row of small, white markings on the upperside near the tip of the fore wing, whereas the other two species have a more extended white suffusion on both sides of the fore wing.

Additional Photos

Orchard Swallowtail
Mating pair with the larger female at the top. (Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary, QLD)
Orchard Swallowtail
Males are mainly black with a few white markings and patches. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 28 / 01 / 2008)
Orchard Swallowtail
The butterflies (here a female) occasionally rest on exposed branches of trees. (Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary, QLD, 17 / 11 / 2012)
Orchard Swallowtail
Males are mainly black with a few white markings and patches. (Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary, QLD, 17 / 11 / 2012)