Papilio ambrax Boisduval, 1832
Ambrax Swallowtail
(previously known as: Princeps ambrax)
PAPILIONIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Papilio ambrax

The Caterpillar of this species is initially black and white.

Papilio ambrax
disturbed caterpillar showing horns
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

When disturbed, early instars produce a pair of yellow fleshy horns from behind the head.

Papilio ambrax
(Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, Kuranda)

The last instar is quite different in shape and coloration from the early instars, being green with black bands outlined in white. It has a brown head.

Papilio ambrax
(Specimen: courtesy of Coffs Harbour Butterfly House)

When provoked, it displays a pair of red osmeteria.

Papilio ambrax
(Photo: courtesy of Ellen Reid, Bible Museum, St Arnaud, Victoria)

The caterpillar feeds on various species in the family RUTACEAE : the Australian natives :

  • Mt White Lime ( Citrus garrawayae ),
  • Large Leaf Lime ( Citrus inodora ),
  • Citrus-Skinned Grape ( Clausena brevistyla ),
  • Satin Wood ( Zanthoxylum brachyacanthum ),
  • Prickly Ash ( Zanthoxylum nitidum ),
  • Oval-leaved Liana ( Zanthoxylum ovalifolium ),

    and the introduced

  • cultivated Citrus e.g. Lemon, Orange,
  • Wood Apple ( Limonia acidissima = Feronia limonia ),
  • Curry Leaf Tree, ( Murraya koenigii ), and
  • Japanese Prickly Ash ( Zanthoxylum ailanthoides ).

    Papilio ambrax
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The pupa is green and naked. It is attached to the stem of its foodplant by a cremaster at the tail and a silk girdle around the middle.

    Papilio ambrax
    Female
    (Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, Kuranda)

    The adults have black wings with a white mark near the front wingtip, and a large white patch on each hindwing. The hind wings also have some red spots near the margin.

    Papilio ambrax
    Male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The female has more extensive white markings on the forewings. They both have a wingspan of about 8 cms.

    Papilio ambrax
    Female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The undersides are similar, with additional blue spots on the hindwings.

    Papilio ambrax
    Underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Buck Richardson, Kuranda)

    The species occurs as various subspecies in

  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia in:

  • Queensland ( as subspecies egipius Miskin, 1876).


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 270-271.

    Ross Kendall,
    Images of Butterfly Larvae,
    Metamorphosis Australia Issue 55 (December 2009), p. 32,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.


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    (updated 7 November 2011, 10 October 2013, 11 March 2014)