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 male adult butterflies have transparent wings, except for black veins, two black spots, and a black area around the base. The females have a brown veins, and one black spot and one vague brown spot on each forewing.

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

    The hindwings are black with a white band across each one. Both sexes have one red spot on top, and an arc of red spots underneath. In this way, this species mimics other Australian Swallowtails. The wingspan is up to 8 cms.

    Cressida cressida
    female underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay)

    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, female on the left, male on the right
    (Photo: courtesy of Karen Doyle, Townsville)

    Various races of this species have been recognised in

  • Indonesia,
  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia in:

  • 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.

    Wesley Jenkinson & John T. Moss,
    Life history, distribution & behavioural notes on the Clearwing Swallowtail, Cressida cressida (Fabricius, 1775) Lepidoptera: Papilionidae,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 91 (December 2018), pp. 1, 4-8.

    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, 16 September 2023)