Family - PAPILIONIDAE
Tribe - LEPTOCIRCINI
New South Wales, Australia
© David Fischer
The genus Graphium
is widespread in the Old World, with 35 species in the Afrotropical
region, 14 in the Oriental region, 6 in the Holarctic ( south & west
China ) and 20 in the Australian region.
Most of the
Oriental and Australasian species are characterised by the presence
of a pattern of
translucent green, turquoise or yellowish "windows" in their wings.
There are a few however such as aristeus
from New Guinea and the Oriental species
euphrates which are predominantly white, marked with vertical
black stripes. Arguably the most beautiful and unusual of all is
weiskei from Papua, a tailed species
patterned with vivid pink and green on a dark brown ground colour.
is endemic to eastern Australia, being found from Queensland to
species is found in forest edge habitats including rainforest
clearings and glades, deciduous woodland, parks and gardens. In
tropical Queensland it is primarily a mountain butterfly, but in New
South Wales and Tasmania it can be found commonly down to sea level.
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
© David Fischer
The pale green, globular eggs are laid singly on leaves and young
shoots of the larval foodplants, which include
Atherosperma ( Atherospermataceae ),
Cinnamomum ( Lauraceae ),
Geijera ( Rutaceae ), and
Drimys ( Winteraceae ).
The fully grown
caterpillar is pale green with faint whitish spots. It is humped at
the thorax, which carries a pair of short tubercules at the widest
point. The body tapers towards the head and tail. As with all
Papilioninae, there is an extrusible soft fleshy orange-coloured
organ behind the head, which emits foul-smelling odours as a means
of defence against predators and parasitoids.
Males commonly imbibe mineralised
moisture from bare ground, especially in stony or rocky areas. Females
seem to be much scarcer than males, and are usually only encountered
when they nectar at the flowers of trees, bushes or herbaceous plants.
hot mornings large numbers of males, and much lower numbers of
females, can be found "hill-topping", i.e. gathering at what is
effectively a lek, on a hilltop or mountain ridge. This behaviour is
common among the Papilionidae and other butterfly families. It enables
low density forest-dwelling species which would otherwise have
difficulty in locating mates, to home in on a meeting place.
hill-topping sites, males set up individual territories which they
defend against all comers, including bees, flies and other butterfly
species. Aerial combats between rival males are aggressive but usually
short-lived, with the original "owner" of the territory generally
successfully driving off the intruder. When an already-mated female is
intercepted by a male, she drops instantly to the ground, opens her
wings and raises her abdomen to indicate that she is unavailable for
copulation, at which point the male quickly loses interest. If a
virgin females is intercepted, she is chased by the male, rising and
falling as she flies, with the male mirroring her every movement,
until they disappear from view, presumably to copulate.