Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera) Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera)

Overview

Butterflies, along with moths (which are not dealt with in this section), belong to the Order Lepidoptera. We have over 400 species of butterfly in Australia, with 86 species within the borders of the ACT. Our local butterflies belong to five families: the Skippers (Hesperiidae), Blues (Lycaenidae), Nymphs (Nymphalidae), Swallowtails (Papillionidae), and the Whites and Yellows (Pieridae).

While there are a handful of butterfly species which can be observed on the wing at any month of the year in the Canberra region, the butterfly season is generally from September through to April. Most species will fly for only a part of the season however. Butterflies prefer warm, sunny, calm weather, and it will be much easier to find butterflies in these conditions. Some species also prefer to fly at a certain time of the day. It is often easier to observe butterflies at high points in the landscape like hill summits, as the males of many species of butterfly will congregate at such points to set up breeding territories; this behaviour is called hilltopping. Another easy way to find butterflies is to locate flowering plants and watch what butterflies come to visit.

When taking photos of butterflies, it is most helpful to obtain images of both the upperside (dorsal) view of the wings, in addition to the underside (ventral) view of the wings. This makes the identification process much easier for some of the hard-to-identify species. If possible, including features of the butterfly’s surrounds for context can be helpful for determining the relative size of the butterfly. Bear in mind that as a butterfly ages, it can become quite tatty and faded, so that it may have chunks of a wing missing, or appear much paler than it otherwise appears in photos.

Some of the most commonly-observed species around Canberra include the Australian Painted Lady, Meadow Argus, Common Brown, and the Yellow Admiral. In backyard suburban gardens, the Orchard Swallowtail will often be attracted to citrus plants and Cabbage Whites will be drawn to brassicas. Any patch of grassy lawn will attract Common Grass-blues.

Butterflies are the adult stage of the life cycle (so it’s important to note that if you see a small butterfly, it is not going to grow into a larger one, it will stay the same size!). Adult butterflies are the life stage responsible for the reproduction and dispersal of the species; the females lay eggs singly or in clusters on or near the larval food plant; these eggs then hatch into larvae (caterpillars) which are the life stage responsible for eating and growing; these then form a pupa (chrysalis) where the larval stage transforms into the adult butterfly. Some species will overwinter as eggs, or as larvae, or as pupae. Some species are migratory and do not overwinter here at all, and some species are only occasional vagrants to our area.

Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera) - 12 species

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Acraea andromacha (Glasswing)

Acraea andromacha
Acraea andromacha
Acraea andromacha
Acraea andromacha

More information

White & Yellow (Pieridae) Belenois java (Caper White)

Belenois java
Belenois java
Belenois java
Belenois java
Belenois java
Belenois java

More information

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Charaxes sempronius (Tailed Emperor)

Charaxes sempronius
Charaxes sempronius
Charaxes sempronius Larvae
Charaxes sempronius
Charaxes sempronius
Charaxes sempronius

More information

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Heteronympha merope (Common Brown)

Heteronympha merope MALE
Heteronympha merope FEMALE
Heteronympha merope
Heteronympha merope
Heteronympha merope
Heteronympha merope

More information

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Junonia villida (Meadow Argus)

Junonia villida
Junonia villida
Junonia villida
Junonia villida

More information

Blue & Copper (Lycaenidae) Nacaduba biocellata (Two-spotted Line-Blue)

Nacaduba biocellata
Nacaduba biocellata
Nacaduba biocellata
Nacaduba biocellata
Nacaduba biocellata
Nacaduba biocellata

More information

Skipper (Hesperiidae) Ocybadistes walkeri (Greenish Grass-Dart)

Ocybadistes walkeri
Ocybadistes walkeri
Ocybadistes walkeri
Ocybadistes walkeri
Ocybadistes walkeri
Ocybadistes walkeri

More information

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Oreixenica correae (Orange Alpine Xenica)

Oreixenica correae
Oreixenica correae
Oreixenica correae
Oreixenica correae
Oreixenica correae
Oreixenica correae

More information

White & Yellow (Pieridae) Pieris rapae (Cabbage White)

Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae
Pieris rapae

More information

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Vanessa itea (Yellow Admiral)

Vanessa itea
Vanessa itea
Vanessa itea
Vanessa itea
Vanessa itea
Vanessa itea

More information

Nymph (Nymphalidae) Vanessa kershawi (Australian Painted Lady)

Vanessa kershawi
Vanessa kershawi
Vanessa kershawi
Vanessa kershawi
Vanessa kershawi
Vanessa kershawi

More information

Blue & Copper (Lycaenidae) Zizina otis (Common Grass-Blue)

Zizina otis
Zizina otis
Zizina otis
Zizina otis
Zizina otis
Zizina otis

More information

Page 1 

Conservation Level

  • All Conservation Levels (change?)

Invasiveness

  • All Invasiveness Levels (change?)

Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera)

Follow Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera)

Subscribe

Receive email alerts when new sightings are reported.

Canberra Nature Map Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness Frogwatch ACT and Region Budawang Coast Nature Map Southern Highlands Nature Map Noosa Shire Nature Map
17 sightings of 1377 species in 10 locations from 27 members
Powered by NatureMapr |  Wodonga Nature Map operates under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia |  Privacy