Since learning about lifecycles and metamorphosis as a young kid, I have found butterflies absolutely fascinating. There is nothing more exciting than spotting one of the brilliantly coloured insects exploring your garden. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite flying friends to keep an eye out for! Aesthetics aside, butterflies play an important role in pollination, which many plants rely on to reproduce. Much like bees, butterflies fly from plant to plant feeding on the nectar of brightly coloured flowers and transfer pollen to the plants' female reproductive organs. Butterflies are so much more than natural decoration!
Dubbed the “king” of the butterflies, the Monarch is magnificent with its distinctive black, white and orange markings. Seen all over the world, the monarch is mainly found in North America (between southern Canada, the Caribbean and northern South America). However, it is also found in South East Asia and Australasia, and has even been spotted as far afield as northern Africa and the UK!
Cairns birdwing butterfly
Known commonly as the Cairns, or Cooktown, Birdwing, this bright butterfly is endemic to a small area of north-eastern Australia. Preferring the rainforests of Queensland’s wet tropics region, this birdwing can also be found in suburban gardens in Cairns.
Ulysses swallowtail butterfly
The vibrant electric blue of the Ulysses Swallowtail is hard to miss amongst the tropical rainforests and suburban gardens of eastern Queensland. Its size varies, however, its wingspan is generally between 10 and 14 centimetres.
Blue Triangle butterfly
This butterfly is named for its vibrant turquoise, triangle-shaped wings. With a wingspan of between 6.5 and 7.5 centimetres, the Blue Triangle Butterfly is commonly seen around Sydney and Australia’s eastern coast, from Torres Strait to Kiama. It thrives in a range of habitats including forests, woodlands, rainforests and even urban areas.
As striking as its name suggests, the Chain Swordtail is a striped butterfly found in Indomalaya and Australasia, from North India to Australia. Its hind wings have long tails, and a chain of red spots run down each wing.
Another royal insect, the Tailed Emperor is found across Australia. Whilst uncommon, it has been spotted in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and even in South Australia, though it does prefer the warmth of subtropical coastal regions.
The Green-spotted Triangle, also known as the Tailed Jay, is striking a green and black patterned butterfly found throughout Asia and Australia. They’re found to be very active, and constantly flutter their wings (even when perched on flowers!).
Common Eggfly Butterfly
Aptly named, the Common Eggfly Butterfly is found across five Australian states. Remarkably, female Common Eggflies display incredible variability in colour and patterns on their wings, and no two females are the same!