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Tailed Emperor Butterfly

Tailed Emperor butterfly feeding from an opening fig flower.
Tailed Emperor Butterfly – 14th March, 2011.

The beautiful Tailed Emperors are frequent summer visitors. They lay their eggs on our Kurrajongs and Illawarra Flame trees, growing into a spectacular and large caterpillar. Unfortunately every time we discovered one within reach this season we didn’t have cameras with us, and when we did have cameras the caterpillars were no-where to be seen. Woohoo … managed to find a late season caterpillar. Photos below.

This year the butterflies have been attracted to the flowering figs. At least two different Tailed Emperors were photographed, each with slight differences in their wing markings.

The Tailed Emperor butterfly is fairly large, much larger than the Common Brown butterflies they fed beside on the figs. They are usually fairly flighty, however the sweet nectar produced by the over-ripe figs seemed to have a pacifying effect on all the butterflies that fed there, and they were very easy to approach and photograph.


Tailed Emperor caterpillar eggs?
A number of these farily large, bright green eggs have been laid on out Illawarra Flame trees. Possibly Tailed Emperor caterpillar eggs?

 

Tailed Emperor caterpillar
Very young Tailed Emperor caterpillar on Illawarra Flame tree leaf. April 3, 2011.
Tailed Emperor caterpillar
Young Tailed Emperor caterpillar feeding on our Illawarra Flame trees. March 29, 2011.
Tailed Emperor caterpillar
Tailed Emperor caterpillar feeding on Brachychiton acerifolius or Illawarra Flame Tree. March 29, 2011.

 

Tailed Emperor butterfly feeding on over-ripe figs.
Tailed Emperor butterfly feeding on over-ripe figs. A bush fly landed on its wings (click to enlarge) which it seemed to completely ignore.
Tailed Emperor butterfly feeding on figs.
Tailed Emperor butterfly feeding on figs. Note the slight differences in the fore (top) wing markings between these first two images.
Tailed Emperor butterfly
Tailed Emperor butterfly, showing the inside colouration of it’s wings and back.

 

Tailed Emperor butterfly
Tailed Emperor butterfly feeding on ripe figs.