Atherton Tablelands Birdwatchers' Cabin
Butterflies & other insects

Regent Skipper

Emperor moth (Opodiphtera fernida)

Regent Skipper

Exogryllacris sp.

Kirby's Stick insect

White-kneed Cricket

Ozphyllum Bush Katydid

bad-hair-day moth


all photos taken on our property

Butterflies & other invertebrates


The Australian Wet Tropics are not only home to 40% of Australian birds, but also to 68% of Australian butterflies. Of the roughly 435 butterfly species, 277 are found in North Queensland.

Close to 40000 species of insects have been recorded, including many large and colourful beetles and dragonflies.

The drier savannah country to the west adds to the variety of insects.

Our tropical climate also favours increased insect sizes, therefore you can find some of the largest insects in the world here:

-the world's largest dragonfly, the Giant Petaltail (Petalura ingentissima), with a wingspan of 160mm,

-Australia's largest butterfly, the Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion). The female has a wingspan of 150mm,

-Australia's largest moth, the Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules), with a wingspan of 270mm,

- the world's heaviest cockroach, the Giant Burrowing Cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros), which grows to over 80mm in lenght, weighs up to 30g and lives for up to 10 years,

-the world's strongest beetle, the Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylotrupes ulysses), up to 60mm long, and able to lift 850 times its own body weight,

-the largest stick insects here are almost half a meter long. We have the world's loudest cicadas, and Australia's (and possibly the world's) largest ant, the 36mm long Bulldog Ant.

Some of the insects, which can be observed on our property:

-a large variety of butterflies (the beautiful Regent Skippers are especially numerous from November to Marchl) and moths (to attract the latter, we set up a mercury vapour light and a white sheet on some evenings), 

-fireflies in spring and summer, emerging from the creek area and dispersing through the forest,

-Giant Petaltails cruising through the forest in summer,

-many different katydids and grasshoppers, as well as beetles and stick insects.

-several species of cicadas. The giant, aptly named, Red Roarers fortunately only have bumper adult populations every 5 to 7 years for a few weeks in early summer (they can be very noisy).

Following is a list of butterfly species, which we have identified on our property so far. We only photograph, do not capture them, thus the patchy nature of our list.

Butterfly Species List

adults most abundant: (generally, there are more butterflies in summer, but, unless otherwise mentioned, they fly all year)
Papilionidae (Swallowtails)
Macleay's Swallowtail Graphium macleayanum  
Blue Triangle Graphium choredon  
Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus  
Ambrax Swallowtail Papilio ambrax  
Ulysses Swallowtail Papilio ulysses  
Chequered Swallowtail Papilio demoleus  
Clearwing Swallowtail Cressida cressida  
Cairns Birdwing Ornithoptera euphorion  
Hesperiidae (Skippers)    
Regent Skipper Euschemon rafflesia Sept-March
Splendid Ochre Trapezites symmomus Aug-April
Lilac Grass-skipper Toxidia doubledayi Sept-April
Pieridae (Whites and Yellows)    
Lemon Migrant Catopsilia pomona  
No-brand Grass-yellow (what a name!) Eurema brigitta  
Grey Albatross Appias melania  
Caper White Belenois java  
Red-banded Jezebel Delias mysis  
Black Jezebel Delias nigrina  
 Nymphalidae (Nymphs)    
Hamadryad Tellervo zoilus  
Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata  
Monarch Danaus plexippus  
Common Crow Euploea corinna  
Blue Argus Junonia orithya  
Meadow Argus Junonia villida  
Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina  
Blue-banded Eggfly Hypolimnas alimena  
Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide  
Evening Brown Melanitis leda  
Dusky Knight Ypthima arctous  
Northern Sword-grass Brown(Helena Brown Tisiphone helena  
Brown Ringlet Hypocysta metirius  
Lycaenidae (Blues)    
... Ciliate-blue Anthene ...  
Trident Pencil-blue Candalides margarita  
Varied Dusky-blue Candalides hyacinthinus  
Large Green-banded Blue  Danis danis  
Purple Cerulean  Jamides phaseli  
Black-spotted Grass-blue Famegana alsulus   



You might find these websites of interest:

Eminent entomologist David Rentz has a regular blog with very detailed information about insects, and excellent macro photographs:

Alan Henderson, another local insect expert, has a minibeast website:


Cairns Birdwing

Red Roarer cicadas


Ambrax Swallowtail

Giant Petaltail


stick insect

 Velvet Worm