Cairns Birdwing

The Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion), is Australia’s largest native butterfly species. Cairns Birdwings are found southwards from Mount Webb and Cooktown to Mackay in Queensland. Favored habitat is primary rainforest, although the species will breed readily in a home garden if the correct larval host plants are grown.

Males have a predominately black upper wing with emerald green flashes, however the female lacks the green coloring, having a plain black upper wing with white patches. Female specimens reach a wingspan of up to 6.3 inches. Males are usually a little bit smaller.

The leaves of the introduced Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia elegans) will kill the larvae of this species and several other swallowtail butterflies in Australia. It should not be planted anywhere in Queensland, New South Wales or the Northern Territory. Adults are freely attracted to flowers, including Lantana, Hibiscus and Bougainvillea. The species is abundant throughout its range and is not threatened.

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