Sunday, 22 January 2012
Cairns birdwing butterfly
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes I do have the right lens on the camera. This female Cairns birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) visited the garden yesterday, while the long lens was fitted and the battery charged. Although birdwings are frequent visitors, they are very active, rarely settling for more than a second or two. The males tend to keep to the canopy, whereas the females explore the lower levels of the rainforest in search of Aristolochia and Pararistolochia on which to lay their eggs. (The caterpillars do not survive to adulthood on the introduced ornamental Aristolochia elegans. Because of this, the plant is is now a declared weed in Queensland.)
I'm not sure this picture gives an impression of the wingspan, but it is about 150 mm (6 in).
Two other species of Ornithoptera birdwings occur in Australia: Richmond birdwing (O. richmondia) of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, and New Guinea or Cape York birdwing (O. priamus) of northern Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait.