DSC_3072_CtSwallowtail

Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly

Female Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly
Female Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly

Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly

A quite large butterfly with a superficial resemblance to the Dingy Swallowtail, and sharing similar preferences for young citrus shoots to lay their much larger eggs. The Citrus Swallowtail is nowhere near as common as the Dingy Swallowtail. I have only seen 4, all females, in the past 2 years.

The Citrus Swallowtail is quite striking both for it’s markings and size. This individual had lost all of one hindwing, while the remaining hindwing was damaged. She was still quite a capable flier, just not as nimble as her undamaged “sisters”, who proved too restless and challenging so far to photograph.

This past summer the Citrus Swallowtails have been frequent if elusive visitors to our citrus, especially the two Tahitian Limes. Numerous of their caterpillars have been observed through late summer and into autumn. One tree in particular is host to at least eight Citrus Swallowtail caterpillars. I have been checking them daily and taking photographs and have noticed two subtly different colourations. This may be simply individual variation. Unfortunately shortly before pupating all bar one individual managed to completely vanish – hopefully into the leafy inner branches to pupate safely away from predators.

One pupating caterpillar however chose a spot not too difficult to get to with a camera, and the final few days to chrysalis stage were captured.

 

This record includes some of eight individual Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillars from one Tahitian Lime bush, and two from a second. These images were captured during the autumn and winter of 2011.

Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 30th March 2011
30th March 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 5th April, 2011
5th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 5th April, 2011
5th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 17th April, 2011
17th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 25th April, 2011
25th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 25th April, 2011
25th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 25th April, 2011
25th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 29th April, 2011
29th April, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 3rd May, 2011
3rd May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 3rd May, 2011
3rd May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 3rd May, 2011
3rd May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 26th May, 2011
26th May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 30th May, 2011
30th May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 31st May, 2011
31st May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 31st May, 2011
31st May, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 1st June, 2011
1st June, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 2nd June, 2011
2nd June, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar, 3rd June, 2011
3rd June, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Chrysalis, 4th June, 2011
4th June, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Chrysalis, 5th June, 2011
5th June, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Chrysalis, 8th June, 2011
8th June, 2011
Citrus Swallowtail Chrysalis, 11th June, 2011
11th June, 2011

More to come …