Graphium eurypylus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pale Green Triangle Butterfly
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Graphium eurypylus

This species is probably named after Eurypylus of Ancient Greece, quoted in the Aeneid as bringing a dire message to the Greeks in their war with Troy.

These Caterpillars start life as white, yellow, or greenish round eggs which are laid singly on the new shoots of a food plant. They are often found feeding on plants in the family ANNONACEAE, such as:

  • Custard Apple ( Annona reticulata ), and
  • Soursop ( Annona muricata ),
  • Sugar Apple ( Annona squamosa ),
  • Pond Apple ( Annona glabra ),
  • Canary Beech ( Polyalthia nitidissima ),

    as well as

  • Australian Tamarind ( Diploglottis australis, SAPINDACEAE ).

    However we found that the caterpillar failed to flourish on the Custard Apple.

    Graphium eurypylus
    (Photo: coutesy of Glenn White, Townsville, Queensland)

    The caterpillars are black at first with a pale yellow forked tail. They are rather kite-shaped, being hump-backed in the thoracic region, and tapering rearwards from the metathorax.

    Graphium eurypylus
    (Photo: coutesy of Glenn White, Townsville, Queensland)

    As they grow they become brown and later green.

    Graphium eurypylus
    (Photo: courtesy of Ric Nattrass, Driving You Wild, Ipswich, Queensland)

    The metathorax develops a spike each side, which in later instars is dark blue. A pair of dark spikes also develop on the head. A white set of flaps develop along the sides, like a white skirt. When disturbed, the caterpillar everts a transparent pale yellow osmeterium, and produces a strong aromatic odour. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 4 cms.

    Graphium eurypylus

    The pupa has a blunt thoracic horn, and is pale green with rows of darker green dots along each side. It has a length of about 2.5 cms.

    Graphium eurypylus
    showing underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Di Donovan, Beecroft, New South Wales)

    The adult is black with pale turquoise patches and spots. The underside also has some red spots. The males have a tuft of white hair across the hind margin of each hindwing.

    Graphium eurypylus
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The butterfly has a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    Races of this species are found throughout south-east Asia, including

  • India,
  • Papua,
  • Thailand,

    and several subspecies have been recognised in Australia including:

  • nyctimus (Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914) in the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia,
  • lycaon (Rothschild, 1895) in Queensland, and New South Wales.

    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. 260-262.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 34, 65.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Volume 1, Edition 10 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 464, No. 37.

    Lionel Walter Rothschild,
    A revision of the Papilios of the eastern hemisphere, exclusive of Africa,
    Novitates Zoologicae,
    Volume 2, Part 3 (1895), p. 430, and also Plate 6.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 11 November 2009, 4 November 2016)