The Ulysses butterfly (Papilio ulysses) has brilliant electric blue upper wings, trimmed in black.When flying or feeding they can be easily seen, but not easily photographed. The underside of their wings are dull brown, so that when wings are closed they easily camouflage. Their wingspan is 100 - 130 mm (9 cm). Their caterpillar is green and white to blend in with the plants it feeds on. One of their favourite food plants is the euodia ( Melicope vitiflora ). When I lived at Trinity Beach, near Cairns, they regularly visited my euodia, but I'll never see them in my Brisbane garden. They only live in the Tropics.
The Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) is Australia’s largest butterfly species, with females reaching a wingspan of up to 16 cm. Males are usually a few centimeters smaller and are the flashy gender. They have a predominately black upper wing with emerald green flashes. The female lacks the green coloring, having a plain black upper wing with white patches. The female is the larger of the two sexes.The larvae or caterpillars of this species breed on several species of pipe vine, including Aristolochia tagala and Pararistolochia deltantha. The leaves of the introduced Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia elegans) will kill the larvae of this species and several other swallowtail butterflies in Australia. It should not be planted anywhere in Queensland, New South Wales or the Northern Territory. The Brisbane area has a similar, slightly smaller, butterfly called the Richmond Birdwing which also relies on Pararistolochia deltantha. I've planted the vine and hope that one day they find it.
I took these photos at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda (near Cairns) when we were there a while ago.
I went looking for the photos to see if I could identify a caterpillar Africanaussie had found in her garden, and decided they would make a great subject for Mosaic Monday.
As you walk through the butterfly house, hundreds of tropical butterflies are going about their lives in the jungle-like enclosure. You can see many more beautiful mosaics at Dear Little Red House.