Butterflies and Moths

Monarch | Tailed Emperor | Common Eggfly | Glasswing | Common Brown | Citrus Swallowtail

This page and it’s associated child pages are devoted to the butterflies and moths found and photographed on our property near Albury, in country NSW, Australia. As a child I used to catch butterflies and keep them in my room, fed on honey water, until they died. Then I’d add them to my “collection”. Now I prefer to capture them as digital images, in their natural habitat, and collect beautiful photographs instead.

These are real, wild insects, and as such are often imperfect. In the “wild” life is tough and often short, freedom has it’s price. Over time I hope to be able to collect enough images to replace those with damaged wings with the best possible representation for each species.

Monarch or Wanderer Butterfly
Monarch or Wanderer Butterfly - 9th March, 2011

Monarch or Wanderer Butterfly

I was fortunate enough to capture on camera this weary and beautiful wanderer. A male Monarch or Wanderer Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). They are not all that common in this area, although I have seen them usually singly in both Wagga to the north and here in Albury.

He appeared to be strongly attracted to the Buddleia on which he was feeding. Buddleias are known for producing a lot of nectar and a strong scent. They are popular favorites with butterflies, bees, moths, flies and spiders lying in ambush for a quick insect meal.

This male is missing part of one hind wing, and is showing damage to the inside of all wings. He was very flighty and had a charming habit of repeatedly opening and closing his wings while feeding.

More photographs of this butterfly >>

For more information on this beautiful creature visit the Australian Museum’s Wanderer page, and the Wikipedia’s Monarch (butterfly) page.

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

Tailed Emperor Butterfly

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.

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.
More photographs of this butterfly >>

Common Eggfly butterfly
Common Eggfly Butterfly - 20th March, 2011.

Common Eggfly Butterfly

This was a rare treat! I’ve only ever seen these in Butterflyhouses, books or web sites. It was delightful to see one attracted to the buddleia down under the eucalypts on our own property.

The iridescent blue patches on the wings are only visible from certain angles, and can be difficult to photograph. This is a male Common Eggfly. A rather drab name for a very striking and uncommon butterfly.

More photos of this butterfly >>


Glasswing Butterfly
Glasswing Butterfly - 20th March, 2011.

Glasswing Butterfly

These dainty butterflies are about half the size of the Dingy Swallowtail. The upper wing is almost transparent, with only the back markings and a light dusting of white.

They have constantly returned to the buddleia to feed during the last two days, and may have been visiting it far longer.

This was the first of their species I have seen outside books and web sites. Another exciting discovery, at least for me.

More photos of this butterfly >>

Common Brown Butterfly
Common Brown Butterfly on a fig leaf.

The Common Brown Butterfly

Common Brown butterflies are both common and numerous. At this time of year only the females are left, waiting for cooler weather and green grass to lay their eggs on. In the meantime they gather in great numbers around food plants, never too far from grassy fields.

From mid to late summer you can’t walk through the paddocks without disturbing clouds of Common Browns. Butterfly strike (being flown into) is quite common.

This year they enjoyed the over-ripe figs immensely, then moved on to the buddlieas. They can often be seen basking in the sun on dirt, gravel or grass. The Common Browns also appear to be attracted to wild blackberry if they can find it, especially one growing in the shade of eucalypts.

More photos of the Common Brown 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.

More photos of the Citrus Swallowtail butterfly >>

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