Cressida cressida (Fabricius, 1775)
Clearwing Swallowtail
Don Herbison-Evans
Peter Samson & Stella Crossley

Cressida cressida
(Photo: courtesy of Jessica May, Cairns)

This Caterpillar is covered in tubercles, and is mottled with dark brown and white.

Cressida cressida
(Photo copyright: Peter Samson)

It feeds on various species of the genus Aristolochia ( family: ARISTOLOCHIACEAE ), including :

  • Chalmer's Birthwort ( Aristolochia chalmersii ),
  • Holtze's Birthwort ( Aristolochia holtzei ),
  • Hairy Birthwort ( Aristolochia pubera ),
  • Birthwort ( Aristolochia tagala ), and
  • Australian Native Dutchman's Pipe ( Aristolochia thozetii ),.

    Cressida cressida
    (Photo copyright: Peter Samson)

    Eggs are yellow, spherical,and ribbed, with a diameter of about 0.5 mm. They are laid on a foodplant, and also sadly on the introduced

  • Dutchman's Pipe ( Aristolochia elegans ),

    but larvae feeding on the leaves of this plant do not survive. Curiously, they can survive if they feed only on its flowers!

    Cressida cressida
    (Photo copyright: Peter Samson)

    The pupa is brown with white markings. It has a length of about 2.5 cms.

    Cressida cressida
    (Photo: courtesy of Russell Yates, Bundaberg)

    The forewings of the adult butterflies have black veins, with a black area around the base. The females have a black spot on each forewing. The males have two black spots on each forewing. The forewings are otherwise transparent. The hind wings are black with a white band across each one. They each have a red spot on top, and an arc of red spots underneath. In this way the species mimics other Australian Swallowtails. The wingspan is up to 8 cms.

    Cressida cressida
    (Photo: courtesy of Karen Doyle, Townsville)

    Initially the forewings are white, but the scales are very loose, and soon fall off leaving the wings transparent. The body is black except for a red tip to the abdomen.

    Cressida cressida
    mating pair
    (Photo: courtesy of Karen Doyle, Townsville)

    Various races of this species have been recognised in

  • Indonesia,
  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia in:

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Cressida cressida
    ( Australia Post, 1997)
    Cressida cressida
    ( Australia Post, 1981)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 277-278.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Naturalis Fautoribus,
    Systema Entomologiae
    1774, p. 448, No. 24.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 13, 58, 61.

    Bob Miller,
    The Clearwing Swallowtail or "Big Greasy" (Cressida cressida cressida),
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Newsletter, Issue 32 (March 2004), pp. 4-6, 16-17.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 223.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 24 May 2010, 22 October 2013)