Don Herbison-Evans (
(Photo: courtesy of Jan MacDonald, Finch Hatton)
The origin of the scientific name euphorion for this species may be associated with the figure in Greek mythology: Euphorion, who was the son of the gods: Achilles and Helen. The name is nowadays more often associated with the ancient Greek poet: Euphorion (born about 275 BC).
The eggs from which this Caterpillar comes are spherical and laid singly on the undersides of young leaves of the foodplant.
The Caterpillar is dark brown with long fleshy spines that are orange with a black tip. It feeds on various members of the ARISTOLOCHIACEAE family:
The female butterfly is a bit dumb, and is also inclined to lay her eggs on:
but the Caterpillars feeding on this vine die at around the second instar, because it is poisonous to them, as it is to caterpillars of Troides richmondia and Cressida cressida. It is now an important project in the conservation of these Australian butterfly species to try to eliminate occurrences of Aristolochia elegans in the bush along the east coast of Australia, and to encourage people to grow in their gardens: Pararistolochia praevenosa and Aristolochia tagala
The Caterpillar pupates most often after travelling upward to the nearest different tree branch, getting under a leaf. The pupa of the male is yellow-green, and that of the female is bronze.
The adult males and females are different. The wings of the female are black and white, with yellow spots along the margin of each hindwing. The body is yellow, with red under the thorax. The females are larger than the males, and have a wingspan up to 20 cms.
The wings of the males are green and black, with yellow spots around the margin of each hindwing. The body is yellow on top, and red under the thorax.
The undersides of forewings of the males are like the upper surfaces, but the undersides of the hindwings are yellow rather than green. The undersides of the females are similar to the upper surfaces.
The species occurs in north Queensland, between Cooktown and Mackay. Its status as a species, as distinct from being a subspecies of Troides priamus is controversial, but here we follow Nielsen, Edwards, and Rangsi in treating it as a separate species.
This species is featured at Coffs Harbour Butterfly House. Butterflies of this species may be purchased for release at weddings etc.
Further reading :
Michael F. Braby,
Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 284-286.
(updated 25 April 2011)