The Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus) can be found in every state in Australia except Tasmania. There are 16 species/subspecies recognised (as listed in iNaturalistAU), with the Australian Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus ssp. aegeus) found mainly along the east coast of Australia and a small population in the south-west region of Western Australia.

The Orchard Swallowtail is common in Queensland and is often found where there are a lot of citrus trees (one of the preferred food for the larvae).

The female Orchard Swallowtail butterfly is brown to black, and the outer half of its forewing is whitish-grey.

Female Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Roma QLD © Dianne Bickers
Female Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Roma QLD © Dianne Bickers

The male Orchard Swallowtail wings are black, with an arc of white spots near the tip of the forewings. The top side of the hindwings have a white panel and single small red spot, whilst the underside of the male wings are black with red spots and with small blue crescents.

Male Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Roma QLD © Dianne Bickers
Male Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Roma QLD © Dianne Bickers

The process of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis is called “eclosion”. One of the indicators for when a butterfly is close to emerging (known as “eclose”) is the chrysalis changes colour. Pictured below is a recently eclosed female Orchard Swallowtail.

The Orchard Swallowtails live for up to 3 months as adult butterflies.

Recently eclosed Female Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Roma QLD © Dianne Bickers
Recently eclosed Female Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Roma QLD © Dianne Bickers

Host Plants
For those who wish to encourage this species of butterflies, as well as the leaves of citrus and native species from the family Rutaceae, some of the other hosts plants that the caterpillars eat include Mexican Orange Blossom, Cumquat, Hardy Orange, Lemon, Common Acronychia, Willow-leaved Crowea, Desert Lime, Bennett’s Ash, Australian Willow, Saffronheart, Finger lime, Mock Orange, Satin Wood, Lanoline Bush, Jackwood and Parsley.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Subclass: Pterygota
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Superfamily: Papilionoidea
  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Tribe: Papilionini
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Subgenus: Menelaides
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Species: Papilio aegenus
  • Subspecies: Papilio aegeus ssp. aegeus
    currently 16 species/subspecies

Footnote & References

  1. Photographs © Dianne Bickers, Nature Photos from My Garden, Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086275255680
  2. Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/134226-Papilio-aegeus
  3. Papilio aegeus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papilio_aegeus (last visited Dec. 18, 2022)
  4. Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly – Papilio aegeus, Brisbane Insects and Spiders, https://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_butters/Orch_butt.htm

ButterfliesButterflies Index Acraea andromacha Caper White Butterfly Chequered Swallowtail Butterfly Common Eggfly Butterfly Meadow Argus Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly Two-spotted Line Blue (Nacaduba biocellata) Yellow Palm Dart

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