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BUTTERFLIES: Tailed Emperor , Dingy Swallowtail



Tailed Emperor

July 2018

Scientific Name: Polyura sempronius

When and where in yard?  Winter 2018. Hanging upside down on the Robinia pseudoacacia (Frisia) also called Golden Robinia or False Acacia.

Observation: This beautiful butterfly had obviously just emerged from the nearby pupae casing (pictured here.) The butterfly hung, mostly motionless, in the tree for at least two days . I thought it was dead or stupefied from the cold (it was early July 2018) but on the second day I saw it flutter its wings and when I went out next day it was gone. I have never observed the caterpillar or another of these butterflies.

Fun Fact: This is a male Tailed Emperor. Females are mainly white with black-patterned wing edges. Male adults often fight violently when competing for the best perching spots to intercept females. Hence, there is often wing damage in adult males. It was quite special to see this intact and beautifully coloured, freshly emerged specimen

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Dingy Swallowtail

Dingy Swallowtail resting on Banksia Feb 2019

Other Common names: Dainty Swallowtail and Small Citrus Butterfly

Scientific Name :Papilio anactus

Dingy swallowtail feeding on lucerne flower

Observations: This butterfly fluttered in jinking movements up and down and around various plants in the yard. It came to rest for a few seconds on the prostrate banksia ( main photo). Male and female wing patterns are very similar so was unable to positively identify gender. I’ve seen Dainty Swallowtail butterflies a couple of times but have only been able to photograph on this one day. Despite thoroughly searching my citrus trees I haven’t been able to find any caterpillars – although over the years have seen a quite a few Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus) caterpillars.

Fun Facts: This must be the most misnamed butterfly as it is quite beautiful, anything but dingy, – there are far more moth-like dingy- looking butterflies than P. anactus. Perhaps the, Dainty, common name is more appropriate given that it is smaller that the other common citrus swallowtail – the Orchard Butterfly (Papilio aegeus). The swallowtail family of butterflies is so named because many have a ‘tail’ on their rear wings. In some of the Australian swallowtails this tail is reduced to a mere scalloping of the rear wing and in the case of the Dingy, a slightly longer central scallop.

The female lays a single egg on the underside of the new leaves of a citrus plant. Host plants can be native or cultivated citrus. The Dingy swallowtail caterpillars are unlikely to be major pests on your citrus as only single eggs laid at a time and it is not a particularly voracious eater.

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