Papilio aegeus aegeus Click to enlarge image
Adult female Orchard Butterfly, Papilio aegeus aegeus Image: M.Gregg
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    aegeus
    Genus
    Papilio
    Subfamily
    Papilioninae
    Family
    Papilionidae
    Super Family
    Papilionoidea
    Order
    Lepidoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    11 cm

Introduction

The Orchard Butterfly is not so popular with citrus farmers because of their caterpillars' fruit diet.

Identification

Adult Orchard Butterflies are large, black and white butterflies common in Sydney's suburban gardens from October to May. The undersides of their wings have striking colours, which are not always obvious when they fly.


Papilio aegeus aegeus
Male Orchard butterfly Image: R.Jessop
© Australian Museum

Habitat

The Orchard Butterfly lives in urban areas, forests and woodlands.

Distribution

The Orchard Butterfly is found in eastern Australia, from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Feeding and diet

The diet of the Orchard Butterfly's larvae includes cultivated citrus trees such as orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit and mandarin. They also feed on a number of native and other introduced plants.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The caterpillars of the Orchard Butterfly have developed ingenious ways of protecting themselves from predators. During the early part of their life cycle they look like fresh bird droppings. As they grow, they develop spines and red tentacles that emit a foul smell.

Males can be territorial and will chase anything black and white that enters their territory - even Magpies.